Fear not the path of truth for want of travelers there.       (Middle Eastern proverb)

M a r y   &   J a m e s :   t h e  E l e v a t e d   &   t h e   J u s t

N a z a r e n e   f a i t h ,   i t s   h i s t o r y   a n d   m e r i t s ,  a n d   h o w

i t   c a n   s e r v e   a s   a n   a n t i d o t e  to   J u d e o - C h r i s t i a n i t y.

H a r v e y   K a i l i n,   2005.

... I do not think the central figure of Christianity or its central doctrines

are likely to be obscured by a careful restoration of the broken

and almost lost fabric of its earliest literature.

                                                                                               (J. Rendel Harris)

D e d i c a t i o n .

     Arguably the 20th Century's most accomplished biblical scholar, J. Rendel Harris (1852-1941) pioneered the research demonstrating that underlying the Church's scriptural tradition was another, earlier tradition, that of the Nazarenes.  

P r e f a c e .

     This inquiry begins axiomatically with the belief in a benevolent, Supreme Being. With this proposition goes naturally the assumption that it's in the nature of such a Being, as with other sentient being we know of, to communicate.  A further corollary, that it's our place as free moral agents to be attentive to God's voice.  However supportable any of this may be on rational grounds, it's not physically demonstrable which is why it's poor form to quarrel with those who see it differently.

     The premises informing this work are three:

one: God IS;

two: His having covenanted with Abraham;

and three: His sending Jesus, not to cancel or annul His
Abrahamic Covenant, but to confirm it unto all people.

F o r w a r d .

The Church and the World walked far apart

on the changing shores of time.

Said the World to the Church

"your dress is too simple to please my taste;

I will give you pearls to wear,

rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,

and diamonds to deck your hair."

     So begins a quaint poem familiar to many evangelicals.  Actually, it's code language alluding to the Rome's embrace of the Church in 325 AD, at which time Constantine made Christianity the Empire's state religion.  That is when Protestantism dates the falling away from primitive virtue.  Without gainsaying that particular moment's importance as a historical turning point, I would note the existence of at an earlier one - almost two hundred years earlier - and that of greater significance, yet somehow forgotten.

     Remarkable what can slip down a memory hole into the lake of collective forgetting.  For instance, how many of us know that George Washington was not the United States' first president but its seventh or that John Hanson was its first?  How many of us know it was not the US Constitution for which America's insurgents fought and died but, rather, The Articles of Confederation?  What was going on then is a little-commented-upon, bait- and-switch operation.  Patriots were baited to fight on the promise of sovereign statehood but, once the fighting was done, the individual States were subsumed into a consolidation.  And if this can happen in modern times, in our own land - yet mostly without our being aware of it - then it can happen as well in the distant past, in a faraway place, also without our being cognizant of it.

     At one time, from 30 AD to 135 AD (excepting those few years before and after the Temple's destruction in 70 AD), the Nazarene community was centered in Jerusalem. With Emperor Hadrian's conquest of Jerusalem in 135 AD, all Jews - Nazarenes included - were banned from entering the City under penalty of death.  Renamed Aelia Capitolina, Jerusalem became a Gentile enclave.  After that, a rival arose, the Church.  Taking pains to distance themselves from the Nazarenes, a Gentile-dominated leadership group revamped the faith once delivered to the saints, making it more amenable to the Roman powers-that-be, as well as fitting it to their own hierarchical agenda.  Accompanying this change of leadership and direction was a change of Scriptures.  My purpose in the following is to substantiate the claim of substitution and, beyond that, as much as possible, seek to recover the former, worthy tradition.

     The world would be a different place today (in my opinion, a far better place) had The Articles of Confederation not been set aside; likewise the Way of the Nazarene.

Of 9e godehede of oure lorde suete Jesu Crist God almi3thy.

Orve suete lord Jhesu Crist

vie his godhede

he was tofore all creatures,

for whi he made alle creatures

9orou3 his own suete mi3th.

For he is strongeful and mi3theful

9orou3 God 9e fader.

And he withoutn any chaungyinge

9orou3 his godhede bicom sofast man,

& 3af lyf & li3th & grace

to al mankynde forto knowe God.

And he 9orou3 9e lawe and prophecie

was bihoten to 9e folk

9at hij scholden bileuen in God 9e fader.

Ac whan 9at he com in to is werlde

many ere weren at nolden nou3th hym resceyuen.

Ac 9e at hym resceiueden he

3af hem grace

at hij were Goddes sones.

For al 9e fulle ai resceyued of his grace

9e 9at in hym bileued ari3th.

ere nas neuer man at sei3 God bodilich,

and 9erfore bicom Goddes son man

forto techen al mankynde

hou he mi3th be sei3en gostlich.

And he bicom a man of 9e kynred

of seint Dauid and seint Abraham,

for 9at he was bihoten spe[c]iallich to hem.

                                                                                                                                              (MS Pepys 2498, ch.1)   


P r o l o g u e .

     Arguably the literary, crown jewel of the Nazarene movement, the narrative gospel of Jesus' life and ministry, the foregoing being its prologue, survived for centuries in a single, 14th Century manuscript known as MS Pepys 2498.  Once belonging to the famous 18th Century diarist Samuel Pepys (from whom it takes its name), it now resides at Cambridge University.

     Misidentified a century ago by Cambridge's Magdalene Library, the manuscript was lost in inventory; then, once rediscovered, in 1922, it was published untranslated as a "medieval gospel harmony," which begs the question, who needs a medieval gospel harmony?  Few evidently, for it languished in obscurity until January, 2002 when an intrepid researcher Yuri Kuchinsky, of Toronto, Canada, republished it in modern English.  Only then did the world of scholarship or the public at large begin to learn of its many unique, primitive features.

     Unlike the New Testament gospels which have a Greek substrate, MS Pepys 2498, appears to have a Semitic substrate.  Probably early on it was translated into Latin from which the Middle English (the language of Chaucer), was derived.  MS 2498's simplified vocabulary and sentence structure provides us with a straightforward, albeit, artless account of Jesus.  Not the least of its virtues is its narrative sequence.  Unlike the "canonical" four, it makes possible our understanding cause and effect relationships such as why Jesus headed north to the border after John the Baptist's demise (he was seeking to stay out of Herod's clutches) or his relationship with the Magdalene (she was his convert, out of whom he cast seven demons after which she became a key member of his entourage.) 

     One finds repeatedly in the Middle English text the expression "suete Jesu."  In modern parlance this would be, "sweet Jesus."  The portrayal then of Jesus throughout is that of one who was down-to-earth approachable and sympathetic.  Such was how those who knew him best were given to thinking of him.

     Regarding the Nazarene Narrative Gospel: it's not just a rumor about a manuscript locked away in some far away monastery but it's available here and now on the web to anyone wishing to peruse it or ponder its claims.  My translation of MS 2498 is copy left, not copyrighted.  Anyone so inclined is welcome to spread it abroad and, for that matter, improve on it if they can.  

T a b l e   o f   C o n t e n t s.

Title page. / Dedication. / Preface. / Forward. / Prologue. / Table of contents.

PART I:  Rediscovering the Nazarene legacy.  (pp. 10-33)

Nazarene. / An abiding interest. / Mary and James in Prophecy. / Toward a fair process / Who was James? / James' NT portrayal. / James' Epistle. / Yakov the Tsadik. / Yakov the Hokmah.  / The eschatological high priest. / Martyrdom in Jerusalem. / The Magdalene in the Canonicals. / From whence came the title "Magdalene"? / The cry of the penitent. / Canticle of Canticles. / Conclusion.

PART II:  Nazarene Scriptures.  (pp. 34 -64)

The preservation of Scripture. / From whence the New Testament? / Recovering the crown jewel, the Nazarene Gospel. / Working out the implications: accounting for MS Pepys 2498. / Credit given where credit due. / Non-canonical gospels. / Canonicity. / Diversity of approach. / A Mandaean connection. / Bait and switch. / A family connection. / Comparing textual traditions. / Jesus, the Wisdom of God. / The apostolic heritage.

PART III:  Placing the Nazarene movement in its biblical setting. (pp. 65-73)

All Abraham's Children. / Two forks in the road: rabbinical and ecclesiastical. / Glory and its departure. / 70 AD. / Hierarchy.

PART IV:  Praxis.  (pp. 74-100)

Jesus replaced the narrative of power with the power of personal example. / Deconstructing the sacrificial system. / The end of tithing. / I have called you friends. / There ain't no magic. / The little flock. / Living lightly. / A voluntary simplicity. / Pure religion. / Gender equality. / My Mother the Holy Ghost. / Conclusion.

PART V:  Spiritual experience.  (pp. 101-115)

Jesus exemplifies Light. / Two horns. / The inner Light. / Paul embraced the Light. / Gospel of Thomas. / Four senses. / A Mandaean poem.

PART VI:  Side streams.  (pp. 116-129)

Holy Blood, Holy Grail. / DaVinci Code. / The power of legend. / Margaret Starbird's Magdalene  Robert Eisenman's James. / The Ebionites. / Enochian Judaism. / A Gnostic view rebutted. / The Magdalene & the media.

PART VII:  Appendices.  (pp. 130-147)

ISBE's article about James the Just. / John Calvin's take on James 3:1. / Acts of James.

PART VIII: Bibliography. (pp 147-149)

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 PART I: Rediscovering the Nazarene legacy.


And there came forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch [N'tzer, the Hebrew word

from which our word "Nazarene" is derived] shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of

YHVH shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel

and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of YHVH; ...                         (Isaiah 11:1-2)

     Because buildings are built from the bottom up, not from the top down, our assessment of the Nazarene movement necessarily depends on our assessment of its foundation - whether it qualifies as a valid expression of the prophetic promises made to king David a 1000 years before.  But what of the Davidic promises? are they not consistent with the Covenant made a 1000 years before his time with Abraham?  Everything, the Covenant itself included, depends on the foundation, God himself being that foundation.  In approaching all such questions, let us do so with eyes open for credulity is not belief, any more than honest inquiry is sacrilege.  Intellige ut credas - from understanding cometh believing.

     As for Mary Mary Magdalene and James, the brother of Jesus, they were known respectively as "the Elevated" and "the Just," for so Jesus denominated them.  Did they see themselves other than as remnant, true Israel keeping faith as ever with the Fathers?  Was their belief in Jesus any departure from the long saga begun with Abraham or its fulfillment?  If their messianic witness was not all of a piece with the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Law, and the Davidic Kingship, ought it not to be rejected?  These are a few of the questions raised in the pages following.

An abiding interest.

      Over the last 2000 years there has been a steady undercurrent of interest in Mary Magdalene as well as in James the Just, but now, as attested to by recent best-sellers, feature news articles, and TV-documentaries, popular notice of them is running at near-fever pitch.  A confluence of factors play into this: such as finding the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library, which discoveries have whetted the perennial search for spiritual identity but beyond any trendy quest for a "new paradigm," there is, also, a clandestine agenda to exploit their fame.

     Acknowledging this burgeoning interest, even while stoking it, Newsweek, in a cover story 08/12/03 declared the Magdalene to be 2003's "it" girl.  Albeit a less-than-respectful way to put it, still this beats many a pronouncement by Church theologians who over the years have damned her with faint praise while praising her with faint damns.  Truly the Magdalene has been wounded in the house of her friends.  Defending her honor is a worthy deed in its own right but a larger objective is in view for both Mary and James, as Jesus' handpicked successors, have a vital message for our generation.  At stake then is more than

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antiquarian interest in a 1st Century bone box i.e. (an ossuary) with James' name on it, or prurient interest in Mary's and Jesus' relationship; also at stake is the way we interact with the Judeo-Christian heritage and, on a practical level, how we conduct our lives.  Although misplaced enthusiasm too often has trumped scholarly debate, some seekers at least remain committed to recovering the apostolic faith.

     Picking our way through the welter of opposing claims about the Magdalene is no small task: in Catholic tradition, there is the fallen Mary, ever submissive to her "betters," ever repenting (thus "maudlin" a word deriving from her name, meaning effusively sentimental); also there is the feminist Mary, a usurper of male prerogatives, jealous for her gender; also, there is Scorsese's tattooed Mary, a lascivious temptress.   (The latter two interpretations accord well with the temper of our times.)  Then, too, there's the enlightened, Gnostic Mary, "the one who knew the All."  (The Egyptian goddess Isis was so termed.)  According to this interpretation, when Jesus cast from Mary seven demons, she descended through the seven gates of the underworld before being reborn the initiatrix of sacramental ecstasy.  Then, as an avatar of the divine feminine, as the crescent moon rising from the sea to the stars, Mary, through a Gnostic bridal chamber rite presumably carries souls aloft to the apotheosis of divine self-realization.  Showered with extravagant praise, the Magdalene has been titled "the gate of heaven," "refuge of sinners," "the ark of the Covenant," "the second Eve," "the Holy Grail."

     But terms meant to demean are also hurled at her, such as "plaiter of hair," euphemistically, that is, a prostitute.  It's enough to make one exclaim: "will the real Mary Magdalene please stand up?"  Our range of choices extends well beyond Mel Gibson's portrayal of Mary in his "Passion" movie or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.  One enterprising lady I read of even "proved" that the Magdalene was an Ethiopian.  However that may be, there's another Magdalene altogether whom we seek.

Mary and James in Prophecy.

     As one might expect, the bulk of messianic prophecies apply directly to the Messiah but a few also apply to members of his immediate entourage or to the larger messianic movement.  For instance: "A virgin shall conceive" - would that not be a prophetic reference to Jesus' mother, Isaiah 7:14?  "A voice crying in the wilderness" - is that not the Forerunner, John the Baptizer, Isaiah 40:3?  "The son of perdition" - would that not be Judas Iscariot, Psalm 109:8?  And so it goes from Jesus on down, there was a prophetic delineation of various key players in the messianic movement.  Among this select number stands James the Just, otherwise known as "the Bulwark of the People;" and Mary Magdalene whose epithet "Magdalene" means "high tower" or "elevated."  In the Spirit, these two stood on Jesus' right hand and on his left.

     In the Bible, a name change often signified a change of status.  Thus Abram became Abraham; Sari, Sarah; Jacob, Israel.  Likewise with the granting of titles: 

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Simon became Petros, i.e., "a small stone," indicating as it were that he was a chip off of "The Rock."  As the 4th Century biblical scholar, Jerome, (c. 340-420 AD) wrote regarding the Magdalene:

Mary of Magdala received the epitaph "fortified with towers" because of her earnestness and

strength of faith, and was privileged to see the rising of Christ first before even the apostles.

     And of James, the historian Eusebius (c. 260-340 AD) wrote:

Because of his superlative righteousness, he was called the Righteous [or Just] One [Dikaios]

and Oblias, which from the Greek translates as "Bulwark of the People."  ... as the Prophets

declare of him.

     Let it be noted: from its inception, the Nazarene movement was no monolith, a point much in its favor, actually one of its greatest virtues, for in upholding unity in diversity, rather than through uniformity, it demonstrated a tolerant maturity, containing under one roof a wonderful variety of personalities who were able to exercise their God-given initiative to live, dream, create, build, yet without constantly having to look over their shoulders to see if they had some earthly authority's approval.  Illustrative of this diversity are Mary and James who, in due course, we shall not only compare but also contrast for, so far from being cut from the same mold, they represented distinctly differing points on the spectrum: James, a somewhat more traditional, Jerusalem-based Judaism; the Magdalene a more exotic, wilderness-based, Enochian Judaism.

Toward a fair process: considering Mary and James in tandem.

Walk about Zion, and go round about her:

tell the towers thereof.  Mark ye well her bulwarks.

                                                       (Psalm 48:9,13)

     The Twelve vied amongst themselves for the honor of sitting on Jesus' right hand and his left in the Kingdom to come but all for naught, for it was not theirs to ask any more than it was his to grant.  Nor were they necessarily given first place in the messianic community.  One of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, ended up in last place.  Honor given to whom honor is due; so also dishonor.  In pointing this out, it is not to  make light of the institution of the Twelve, for its members' contributions were great and they are with Jesus always.  Rather, the purpose is to restore to memory the role played by James and Mary.  In so doing, we redress an ancient wrong committed by those Church Fathers who with their stubby pens, as much as they dared, expurgated them both from the New Testament.  That this happened is demonstrable, with the supporting evidence provided hereafter.

     Before appearing to the Twelve, early on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared  first to the Magdalene, then, as the Gospel of the Hebrews reports, later 
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that morning to James "the brother of the Lord."  Priority of appearance after his resurrection was a signal honor for them but for us a sign.  For his part, James was like a two-edged sword, incisive in his judgments, wielding the word of truth with grace and alacrity.  As for Mary, she chose the better part.  As an empty chalice, she waited on and was filled by her Lord.  No one knows a brother like a brother.  That was James.  No one knew her beloved as did the beloved one.  That was the Magdalene.  As a high tower, she was of all women most elevated, while he of all men was most just.  This one most passionate, that one most mild.  Having qualities which dovetail beautifully, they balance and complement, this one being vulnerable, that one venerable; the one deeply caring, the other thoughtfully wise.

     Through the written word, that is, Holy Writ, the will of God is made known and through the living word, Jesus, the will of God is made known.  In just that way, with head and heart working in tandem, James excelled in his handling of Scripture while Mary excelled in her devotion to the Man.  The plan, therefore, is to interpret Mary in light of James, to interpret James in light of Mary, and both in light of Jesus and the Scriptures.  Since few question its genuineness, James' epistle makes a convenient touchstone for, in the best tradition of Jewish wisdom literature, it is steeped in biblical lore.  In light of it, we can dismiss out-of-hand as special pleading some of the more fanciful views regarding the Magdalene's religious and ethical orientation.  Mary's distinguishing trait was her single- minded devotion to Jesus.  She was worshipful, not worshiped.  Making her out to be some sort of goddess misses the point entirely that at every turn the imagery regarding her is not pagan but fits comfortably within the monotheistic tradition, besides which such views cannot be squared with what we know about James.  Skipping past the modern, libertine position as being too ephemeral to take seriously, there remains yet the issue whether Mary and Jesus were betrothed or even married.

     This it turns out is not so easy a question to resolve as I had supposed for the Magdalene so it would seem was in some sense family or why else was she at the foot of the cross with Jesus' mother and with the other Mary, the wife of Cleopas (who, according to Eusebius, was Joseph's brother; whose wife therefore was mother Mary's sister-in-law)?  Also, the idea that the Magdalene was family would go a long way toward explaining why she was allowed to handle Jesus' lifeless body.  I do not claim these facts rise to the level of proof, just that they're suggestive of the existence of a personal relationship.

     This we can assert for now, that Mary Magdalene symbolizes the human search for divinity, even as Jesus symbolizes the divine search for humanity, and it would seem that they both found in each other what they were looking for.  It's enough to say for now that they were an item.  Later we will take up the issue of hiros gamos, sacred marriage, whether or not there had been betrothal or a consummated union
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and whether or not their relationship was symbolic or representational - in other words, whether Mary was figuratively or literally the Bride of Christ.  In this, as in as in all other matters advanced here, the viewpoint is neither the Church's, which is given to making too little of the Magdalene, nor is it the view of the Gnostics, who would make too much of her.  Rather, it is a third way altogether, that being the way of the Nazarene which predates them both.  Roughly speaking, the Nazarenes stands equidistant from "normative," rabbinical Judaism, from the Church, and from Gnosticism.

     Considering Mary and James in tandem can be helpful in the same way as combing the intuitive with the analytical can be helpful, by keeping us from going off on a tangent and by serving as a corrective to extreme positions.  Beyond the value of comparisons, a synergistic effect is achieved even when we contrast them, for in contrasting them, we catch a glimpse of the Nazarene movement's breadth of concern and its openness to disparate influences.  The extent to which this was so is breathtaking.

     Mary and James are not the Way but they illuminate the Way; not the Truth, yet they earnestly sought truth; not the Life, yet they were most lively.  But how can they speak to us across a span of 2000 years?  Only by their being universally relevant.  By that, I mean they must reveal to us God's will in a new or clearer way, or else what's the point?  But if they are so relevant and exemplars of the true path, why is it that many, myself included, who thought ourselves reasonably conversant with things biblical, only now are catching on?  Not by accident!  There are powerful interests involved.  On highly contested ground with much at stake, just clarifying the conflicting claims is a battle royale.

Who was James?

     As with the Magdalene, so likewise with James, of him there have long been and continue to be many, contradictory views.  Whereas the tendency has been to view the Magdalene absent any reference to her Jewishness, as if perhaps she was divorced from her roots, James often is seen as being too Jewish.  That was Luther's assessment.  In his edition of the New Testament, he removed James' epistle, which he deprecated as "a strawy epistle," from its accustomed location, relegating it to an appendix at the rear.  His expressed intention was to do away with it altogether:

The Epistle of James is written by a Jew who so far as Christianity is concerned has

indeed heard the bell ring, but does not know where the clapper is.  Here in Wittenberg

we have cast James out of theology; indeed we have almost thrown him out of the Bible.

                                                                                                                          (Martin Luther, 1542)
     Unlike Luther, Catholicism and Orthodoxy have long wanted to identify James with their respective institutions, albeit on their terms.  Recasting James as a proto-Catholic, they credit him with authoring the Divine Liturgy of St James, an 
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ancient, still widely-practiced Church rite.  However, neither this rite's well- developed trinitarian theology nor its high-church ceremonialism, could James or anyone else from the 1st Century have conceived.  Initially, so far from being popular with the Church, James was roundly ignored.  For instance, no reference to him is found amongst the sub-apostolic Church Fathers.   Nor is his epistle listed in the Roman Catholic Muratorian cannon of c. 200 AD.  Only in the 3rd Century, once the Nazarene movement that James had led had been put to flight and declared a heresy, do we find record of a Church father, namely, Origen, looking with favor upon him.  In the 4th Century, Augustine embraced him and the church historian, Eusebius, extolled him, making reference to his "episcopal throne."

     (This very throne, having survived into modern times, on scientific examination, proved, alas, to be a 4th Century artifact derived from the same material as the church structure from the same time period associated with it.)

     By the way, what a fine piece of nonsense: James "enthroned," ruling from a raised platform as if he were a monarch, when his only authority was moral authority which he exercised mostly from on his knees.  The Church's perceived need to connect itself to James by the use of hopelessly anachronistic claims is symptomatic of its inherent insecurity about its origins, all of which reflects adversely on the legitimacy of its rituals, the presumed efficacy of which depends on unbroken, physical, apostolic succession.

     Though neither the Jewish leadership then or the Church now care to acknowledge this, James, of all Jews, was most observant.  He never abandoned tallit or phylacteries, yet he was most Christ-like, demonstrating thereby the compatibility of Moses and Jesus.  At the same time that the Jewish leadership found his message too universal, the Church found it too Jewish or, as Edward Gibbon put it:

The Nazarenes were Jews who were converted to Christ, who, because they kept the

law of Moses together with the gospel, were cast out of the Church.

                                                                               (The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire)
     In light of all we know about the Magdalene, it would be to blunder to portray James then as having been a narrow-minded legalist when we know that the movement to which both belonged was at heart humane.  We should know better than to think that James took pride in his religion or his ethnicity instead of his humanity.  Instead of parochialism or exclusivist tendencies, by the evidence of his epistle, we can say that he was wonderfully open and generous.  He said it all when he wrote:
... mercy rejoiceth against judgment.    (James 2:12)

James' portrayal in the New Testament.

       In the aftermath of the Messiah's life, death, and resurrection, his band of followers, numbering about 120, established themselves in Jerusalem as a society

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of friends in intentional community with James the Just, the brother of our Lord, as their leader.  Yet, in the Acts of the Apostles, few particulars relating to this are provided.  Curiously missing from this account until chapter 12 is any mention of James, the chief protagonist.  And even when he is introduced into the story line, it is done so in a most peculiar way, simply: "tell James ..." (Acts 12:17).  Somehow the reader is supposed to divine which of three Jameses was intended or why it might be important to tell him anything at all.  Actually, to that point in Acts, only two Jameses had been mentioned: James, a son of Zebedee, reported as killed (Acts 12:2) and James a son of Alpheus.  Thereafter, James the brother of Jesus is mentioned only in two additional references in conjunction with the apostle Paul, and again he is not identified as to his position in the community.  That he was for over thirty years its head in Jerusalem is never mentioned.  This is not the normal way to tell a story!  The only way I know to make sense of it is to assume that something fell out of the text.  In all probability it didn't just "fall" out.  Though conjectural and not proven, almost certainly a sizable portion of the text was removed in a mid to late 2nd Century, Church-sponsored edit.  What makes such a conjecture plausible is that we are now able to prove that in that same time-frame the "canonical" gospels were given a heavy going over, a full revision by the Church.  It much appears that in Acts, like a big shark, the Church came along and chomped off an essential piece of the story not suitable to its purposes.  Not only missing are James' deeds but the real story of the Jerusalem community is missing as well.  Still discernable, however, is the gaping hole left behind.

     Instead the New Testament, the most extensive and valuable source of information about James is Hegesippus (d. 180 AD), a Jewish native of the Holy Land.  A historian, he recorded what he knew about the early days in a five-volume work called Memoires.  Now lost, parts of it pertaining to James were included in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History.  Other sources include Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Epiphanius,and Jerome.

     It was Jerome who preserved for posterity a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to James found in The Gospel to the Hebrews in which they break bread together, after which Jesus hands to the "servant of the high priest" the grave clothing.  Who would that have been?  Surely not the servant of the high priest, Caiphas, the same as helped bring about his execution?  That makes no sense at all.  As we shall see, it was James, not Caiphas, who was the eschatological high priest.  As for Jesus' handing over the grave clothing to James' servant, rather than to James himself, that would have allowed James to remain ritually clean in accordance with Mosaic provisions applicable to those in priestly office.

Now the Lord, after he had given his linen clothes to the Servant of the Priest, went to

James and appeared to him.  For James had sworn that he would not eat bread from

that hour in which he drank the Cup of the Lord until he should see him risen again
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from the dead.  The Lord said, "Bring a table and bread."  He took the bread, blessed it,

and breaking it, gave it to James the Just, saying to him, "My brother, eat your bread,

for the Son of Man is risen from among those that sleep." (Gospel of the Hebrews)

     Possibly one of the items of clothing Jesus presented James at that time is known to us today as the Shroud of Turin.  Certainly possession of such an object would have lent credence to the disciples' eyewitness account of the resurrection as well as help explain the positive response they received.

James' Epistle.

     On rare occurrence, a person will express himself or herself in such manner as to transcend time and place, a prime example being Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.  Other examples might be Socrates addressing his disciples before his taking the hemlock, Chief Seattle's Oration, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I've been to the Mountain Top" speech, all of which are utterances for the ages.  James' Epistle falls in that general category of expression.  Besides a deep acquaintance with the written word, the Epistle's oratorical quality suggests that it was the product of a spoken ministry.  Its 107 verses divide neatly into twelve parts:

I. (2:1- 13); II. (2:14-26); III. (3:1-12); IV. (3:13-18); V. (4:1-10); VI. (4:11-12); VII. (4:13-17); VIII. (5:1-6); IX. (5:7-11); X. (5:12); XI. (5:13-18); XII. (5:19- 20).  These are discrete units with some transitional material present to carry the reader forward.

   Verse 1, chapter I opens the letter; verses 2 through 27 contain introductory aphorisms covering in summary form the body of the letter found in chapters II through V.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be

a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a

glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of

man he was but whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he

being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 
                                                                                                                                        (James 1:22-25)
     The Word of God is not intended to be merely abstract doctrine; we have to paint ouselves into the picture.  That is to say, God's Word is like a mirror ; unless we stand before it, we cannot catch our reflection in it.

     In many respects, both in verbal form and in subject matter, James' Epistle resembles Jewish wisdom literature as represented by such works as Proverbs, Ben Sira's Ecclesiasticus, the Wisdom of Solomon, etc. - but with a twist, namely its counter-culture orientation; society's underdogs, not its nobles are given first consideratrion.  Inasmuch as most of the wisdom books were relegated to the "apocryphal" section, then, later
in the 19th Century, were struck altogether from the Protestant Bible, Protestant theologians tend to overlook James' connection to them.  Too bad, for by failing to take into account the extent to which the sagely
/ 18.
tradition was incorporated into Jesus' and James' ministries, it is not surprising that they are unaware, also, how innovative they were in expanding that tradition, pushing it in a new direction.  Commenting on this, Richard Bauckham, in a deeply insightful and scholarly exposition titled James, wrote:

We have shown that the literary forms of aphorisms and similitudes in James not only reflect

those used in the tradition of Jewish wisdom instruction, but correspond remarkably closely

to the range of literary forms in which the aphorisms of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels are

cast.  We have also shown that James' indebtedness to the tradition of the sayings of Jesus

should not be understood in terms of allusion, but in terms of creative appropriation and re-

expression. ... Much of Jesus' teaching does not explicitly oppose conventional order, but

positively commends the new divine order - the values and structures of the kingdom of God.

...  A remarkable number of features and topics of traditional Jewish wisdom are wholly

absent ... Purely prudential advice is absent on how to behave so as to avoid suffering

disadvantage, ... Exhortations not to be idle,  ... the treatment of slaves ... are examples of

topics prominent in traditional wisdom but wholly absent from the teaching of both Jesus and

James.  ... However, what is needed is an explanation of the way the sayings of Jesus

appropriate and develop the tradition, accounting for his total neglect of many themes, his

unusual emphasis on and distinctive development of others. ...  Like the teaching of Jesus,

that of James lacks the moderation, practical compromise, and alignment with social

convention that are often characteristic of the Jewish Wisdom tradition, focusing rather on the

Torah's demand for perfection, understood as extensively and intensively as possible.   ...

the theme of wholeness  ... is the overarching theme of the letter, ... Opposed to wholeness

is the divided loyalty, ... for which James uses the term "double-minded (1:8; 4:8).  All of this

is especially close to Jesus' privileging of the two love commandments (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark

12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37) as the primary interpretive key to the law.  ... Like the Gospel

saying it closely resembles, [James] 5:12 is in effect a demand for total truthfulness in all

speech ... Oaths, which guarantee the truth of particular statements, imply that other

statements are less reliable.  They are forbidden here because all speech is to have the

truthfulness that oaths require.  ... James shares Jesus' special concern with the heart as the

source of words and actions. ... This close relationship between the heart and its expression

in speech, traditional in Jewish thought (e.g. Ps. 15:2-3; Sir. 27:4-7), explains how James can

regard control of the tongue as the key element in attaining perfection (3:2-4).  That it is "out

of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks" and that therefore speech reveals the

true state of the heart is affirmed also by Jesus (Matt. 12:33-37; Luke 6:43-45). ... whereas

traditional Jewish wisdom literature typically addressed an individual as "my son", James

addresses the whole community as his brothers and sisters.  Fictive kinship relationships of

equality and mutuality replace hierarchical ones.  ... Arguably, it is to a large extent the

radicalizing of wisdom and Torah by theocentric eschatology which gives the wisdom of

Jesus and James their distinctiveness and commonality. Their "wisdom of counter-order" is

not intelligible without the eschatology that informs it.  ... the theme of reversal of status ...
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depend on the expectation that God's judgment is going to exalt the lowly and bring low the

exalted (1:9-11; 4:10). ... Peacemaking, contrary to the values of the world, is sowing already

the seed of the eschatological harvest of peace (3:18).  Endurance (1:3-4, 12; 5:8-11) is not

mere waiting for the Parousia, but courageous resistance in living by the values of God's

counter-cultural rule until it comes in power. ... God's judgment is not to be imitated (4:12;

cf. Matt. 7:1-5), but his mercy and generosity are.

     James' radical duality is further emphasized by Bauckham:

... James' readers can be friends with God (4:4), like Abraham (2:23), or they can be friends

with "the world" (4.4), but the choice must" be made.  The distinction cannot be fudged. ...

One lives either by God's values or by that dominant value-system which James calls "the

world" (1:27; 2.5; 4.4; cf. 3:6). ... The wisdom of Jesus functions for James as the focus and

principle guiding his approbation of other Jewish traditions.  His wisdom is the Jewish

wisdom of a faithful disciple of Jesus the Jewish sage.  He is the disciple of whom Jesus said:

"The disciple is not above his master, but every one when he is fully taught [or more literally:

made complete"] will be like his master" (Luke 6:40).

James, the Tsadik.

     In Genesis, for his kinsman Lot's sake, and his kinsman's family's sake, Abraham negotiated with God to save Sodom.  Of God, he asked:

Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?  Peradventure there be fifty

righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty

righteous that are therein?                                                                         (Genesis 18:24)

     Eventually Abraham bargained God down to ten, whether for the sake of ten righteous men (the word for righteous in Hebrew being Tsadik, or, Zaddik), God would spare the city.  From this incident was developed a generalized application that humanity's continued existence is predicated on the presence of God's righteous ones among us.  James the Just, James the Righteous One, Ya'akov HaTsadik, was widely considered by the folk in Jerusalem to be such a one.  Thus we read in Thomas:

The disciple said to Jesus, "We know that you are going to leave us.  Who will be our

leader?  Jesus said to them, "No matter where you are you are to repair to James the

Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.                               (Logion 12)

     James' reputation for righteousness stems from a variety of causes:
 / 20.
And once during a drought, he [James] lifted his hands to Heaven and prayed, and at

once Heaven sent rain ... Thus they no longer called him by his name, but his name

was, rather, "the Just One."                                                                                (Epiphanius)

     1st Century Jewish historian, Josephus, speaking of James' "great holiness," "his preeminent righteousness," attributed this to his devotion to prayer.  For like reason the appellation "camel knees"
was conferred upon him.  As James wrote:

       ... the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5:16)

     However, personal piety in his view was not an end in itself but a means to a greater end.  Indeed, piety without charity could be a detriment.  As for James' regard for the poor, it was not based on sympathy alone but on respect:

Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which

he hath promised to them that love him?                                                                  (James 2:5)

     In living lightly, James was keeping to a way of life which, if broadly practiced, would obviate the need for war.  Wars arise from two causes: greed and need.  Greed needs to be harnessed, even as needs need to be met.  There's room for all under the sun on God's green earth, if we will but accommodate one another.  James asks:

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts

that war in your members?  Ye lust and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot

obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask not and receive not,

because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.                             (James 4:1-3)

     For the better part of 2000 years, with few exceptions, Christendom has avoided facing the challenge James presents to believers to disengage from the world system and exit from the circle of war.  We do not need to be fronting for rapacious corporations, war profiteers, or grasping politicians, anymore than we need to involve ourselves in capitalistic or nationalistic conflicts, much less the murderous, New World Zionist dictatorship.  By contrast, living lightly is an appeal to the conscience.  It says by example: we do not need to live by the law of conspicuous consumption or try to keep up with the Jones, that we have another standard to live by.  As Jesus put it:

It behooveth him who would be my disciple, to give the most careful attention to letting

go of all such things as would be disturbing of my love.                             (MS 2498, ch. 66)     
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     As Aaron served as his brother's spokesman and was appointed to be the high priest, so was James Jesus' spokesman and high priest after his death and resurrection.  Confirming this are ancient accounts, that he entered the temple's inner sanctum as the opposition high priest:

But we find that he [James] also exercised the Priesthood according to the ancient Priesthood.

...  To James alone was it permitted to enter the Holy of Holies once a year, because he was

a Nazarite and connected to the priesthood. ... Many before me have reported this of him -

Eusebius, Clement and others.  He was also allowed to wear the [priestly] mitre on his head

as the aforementioned trustworthy persons have testified in the same historical writings.
     For 32 years the Sadducees bided their time, never forgetting Jesus' chastisement of them when he cleansed the temple in 30 AD or whose brother it was who continued to challenge their legitimacy for all this while James had been a bone in their throat.  His mere presence reminded them of their guilt.  His modest lifestyle was a daily reproach to their extravagance.  Because they were held in contempt by the people, the Sadducees were not anxious to move precipitously against him.  Eventually they felt compelled to act, particularly when arose a new controversy regarding their designs on the temple's treasury.  According to Josephus (Ant. 20: 205-7), the Sadducees, led by Ananus II, in 58 AD illegally seized that portion of the tithe due the rural priests.  Upholding the temple's integrity, so it would seem, James appears to have championed the rural priests' cause.  That was the final straw.  It was just then that Jerusalem found itself between Roman-appointed governors, that is, the interregnum between Festus and Albinus.  Now, finally, the temple leadership must have thought, whatever the risk, the time was at hand to make their move.  Eager to have done with James once and for all, the Sadducees chose as the opportune moment the Passover of 62 AD to query James: "What is meant by 'the door of Jesus'?"  A transparent ploy intended to mousetrap him, James responded, as they knew he must:

"Why do you ask me concerning the Son of Man?  He is sitting in heaven on the right

hand of the great Power and will come in the clouds of heaven."

     By identifying Jesus as the Savior, he gave them the pretext they needed to charge him with "having transgressed the law;" thus did they engineer his demise.

     To round out our understanding of James' sacerdotal ministry in relation to the temple, we should remember that, as vital as was his role as supplicant, there also were other temple functions to be fulfilled.  
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     The temple experience was as different again as a Pentecostal shout and praise meeting is from a high Episcopal Church service.  Picture if you can, as C. S. Lewis invites us to do in his book Reflections on the Psalms, the festive pageantry of the high holy days, with the singers and the minstrels following right behind, trumpets blowing and damsels with timbrels and tambourines in hand, following whom was a great throng, as the folk ascended the temple steps in grand procession.  Glorious the shouts of hosanna!  James was not just an observer but a participant, and more than a participant, he presided over this joyful throng.

     To James, no less than to the Psalmist before him, nothing could be finer than to:

... dwell in the house of God ... to behold the fair beauty of YHVH and to enquire in his

temple.                                                                                                                       (Psalm 27:4)

... I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a

multitude that kept the holy day.                                                             (Psalm 42:4)

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.  I had rather be a doorkeeper in the

house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.                    (Psalm 84:10)

How amiable are thy tabernacles, O YHVH of hosts.    (Psalm 84:1)

I am a priest of the Lord,

and to Him I do priestly service:

and to Him I offer the sacrifice of my thought.

For His thought is not like the thought of the world

nor the thought of the flesh,

nor like them that work carnally.

The sacrifice of the Lord is righteousness,

and purity of heart and lips.

Present your reins before Him blamelessly:

and let not thy heart do violence to heart,

nor thy soul to soul.

Thou shalt not acquire a stranger

by the price of thy silver,

neither shalt thou deprive him

of the covering of his nakedness:

But put on the grace of the Lord without stint;

and come into His Paradise

and make thee a garland from its tree,

and put it on thy head and be glad;

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and recline on His rest,

and glory shall go before thee,

and thou shalt receive of His kindness

and of His grace;

and thou shalt be flourishing in truth

in the praise of His holiness.

Praise and honor be to His name.


   (Odes of Solomon 20)

Martyrdom in Jerusalem.

Unable to endure any longer the testimony of the man, who through a lifetime of ascetic

observance and piety was deemed by all men to be the most righteous, they [the priests]

slew him [James], using anarchy as an opportunity for power, since at that time Festus

[Procurator 60-62] had died in Judea, leaving the province without governor or procurator.  ...

                                                                                                                (Clement, quoted by Eusebius) 
While thus they were stoning him, one of the Priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of

Rechabites, spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, "Stop what you are

doing, the Just One is praying for you."  And one among them, who was a fuller, took the

club with which he beat out clothes and struck the Just One on the head.  ... Thus, he

suffered martyrdom, and they buried him on the spot by the temple, and his monument

is still there by the temple.                                                                                                (Hegesippus)

     From 30 AD, before Pentecost, to 62 AD, at Passover, when he was martyred, James oversaw the messianic community in Jerusalem.  As a light on a hill, even holy Mt. Zion, he was conspicuously placed for Jerusalem, the navel of the world,  is the focus of three world religions, where trade routes from three continents meet; where Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac; where the temple in which Jesus was dedicated stood; where prophets prophesied; where David reigned; where pilgrims gather; where armies clashed, where the Messiah suffered passion and died and rose again, to which he will return to reign with the saints in glory.  It had to have been one tough posting, though not without its rewards.  For decades, for thirty- two years, James stood in the gap, forestalling judgment, this despite the ire of the religious authorities.  Except that they feared the people who held James in awe, the temple's rulers would have gladly done him in at any time.

     These things are related at length by Hegesippus, who is in agreement with Clement.

James was so admirable a man and so celebrated among all for his justice, that

the more sensible of them [the Jews] were of the opinion that this was the cause of

the siege of Jerusalem which happened to them immediately after his martyrdom for

no other reason than their daring to act against him.  Josephus, at least, has not

hesitated to testify of this in his writings.                        (Origin, Contra Celsum I, 47)    
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These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus,

that is called the Christ.  For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.

                                                                                             (Josephus, Antiquities II, xxiii, 1-20)
     A text cited in antiquity as prophetic of James:

Woe to their soul for they have devised an evil counsel against themselves, saying

against themselves, Let us bind the just, for he is burdensome to us.  Therefore shall

they eat the fruit of their works.                                                               (Isaiah 3:10 LXX)

The Magdalene in the canonicals.

     Along with James, the Magdalene was one of the Nazarene movement's key personalities, yet she is missing in toto from Acts while, as demonstrated hereafter, the canonical accounts regarding her are surprisingly garbled.  Why is it like extracting teeth to pull from the canonicals a coherent story about the Magdalene?  Either by omission or by scrambling the story line, she and her relationship with Jesus are effectively obscured.  Only by conflating the canonicals can we restore to any degree the true state of affairs, yet the composite picture formed thereby remains highly problematical.  For instance, trying to account for anointing scenes which differ in time, place, and circumstance, yet curiously overlap each other in coincidental detail.  Thus John's anointing scene, chapter 12, involved Mary of Bethany in her brother Lazarus' home six days before Jesus' crucifixion, whereas in Mark, chapter 14, and Matthew, chapter 26, it is an unidentified woman who anoints Jesus in "the house of Simon the Leper" two days before.  Luke chapter 7 has an unidentified penitent anointing Jesus, but this happened much earlier in his career, this time, however," in the house of Simon the Pharisee."  In Matthew and Mark, it was Jesus' feet which were anointed, whereas in Luke and John, it was his head.  Though agreeing in no other particular, Luke and Mark agree word-for- word that an "alabaster jar of ointment" was used.

     In none of the canonicals is the woman doing the anointing identified as "the Magdalene."  True, Luke refers to her by that name in chapter 8, but in another context,as one "out of whom went seven demons."  So which, if any, of these was one of the three who stood at the foot of Jesus' cross?  Were we to conclude that they were all one-and-the-same individual, how then do we resolve apparent contradictions baffling even to scholars who refer to this as "the muddle of the Marys?"  Why all the convoluted reticence?  Was there something to hide?     Having only the New Testament to go by, one supposition is as defensible or as indefensible as another.  The Greek Orthodox Fathers distinguished three persons: the  penitent of Luke 7:36-50; Martha's sister, Luke 10:38-42 and John 11; and 
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Mary Magdalene.  Protestants, however, generally accede to there having been only two distinct persons, Mary of Bethany and the penitent of Luke chapter 7.  As for the Latin Fathers of the Catholic Church, they are on record as declaring the three one. Such was the position of Pope Gregory I in 591 AD.  There matters rested for many, long centuries, that is, until quite recently.   What is made explicit, however, in MS 2498 is that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany were one and the same person. 

From whence came the title "Magdalene."

     Twice the Magdalene anointed Jesus and was commended by Jesus for doing so.  Then he chose her to be the first person to whom he revealed himself on rising from death to life.  Further reinforcing the impression that she was not an incidental figure, was Jesus' commissioning her to tell his apostles.  More than just a fitting honor due one who had steadfastly stuck by him in his hour of extremity, it was poetic justice that she, a woman, and for that reason discounted, was now the apostles' apostle.  When, later, Jesus upbraided his disciples for their unbelief, was it not in part for their dismissing out-of-hand her report?

     But there's more to her story, much more, relating to the epitaph "Magdalene."  What does this word mean?  Over this question, a three-way split of opinion exists. Some theologians associate this title with a fishing village southwest of the Sea of Tiberias on the flank of Mt. Arbel called Magdala, (Matthew 15:39), a transliteration from the Greek, the Hebrew of which is Migdal meaning tower as in Joshua 19:8: Migdal-el, "the tower of God."  It could stand for any raised platform as in Jeremiah 8:4, where it is translated as "pulpit" but more commonly it was applied to various fortified cities within Israel.  As one theory goes, in Migdal Nunaiya "the Tower of Fish" (the name being derived from a fish-drying operation), there was a woman, named Mary, who met Jesus on the one occasion we know of that he journeyed there, and subsequently followed him to Jerusalem.  Thus, as one from Magdala, she became known ever afterward as "Magdalene," which is to say, she was "of Magdala."  One little problem with this explanation: were she the same Mary as was the sister of Martha, whose brother was Lazarus, then it would appear that she was from Bethany in Judea, not from Magdala in Galilee.  Another consideration: if she were the same woman as anointed Jesus in Luke, chapter 7, then she must have known him well before he went to Magdala, inasmuch as this anointing took place before he went northward.

     Moving on then to a second explanation: certain other scholars have said that Mary was called "Magdalene" because of the seductive arranging of her hair:

Dr. Lightfoot, finding in some of the Talmudists' writings that Mary Magdalene signified

Mary the plaiter of hair, thinks it applicable to her, she having been noted, in the days
/ 26.
of her iniquity and infamy, for that plaiting of hair which is opposed to modest apparel.

                                                                                                    (Matthew Henry's Commentary)
     Astonishing, really, that anyone would paste a woman with a term of opprobrium, a euphemism for an adulteress, passing this off as an acceptable explanation for her title and resorting to Jesus' and the Nazarenes' sworn enemy, the Talmud, for support of this position!  Though a distinguished scholar, Lightfoot is playing fast and loose with the language.  On linguistic grounds alone, his suggestion is most dubious in that the underlying Aramaic expression, magadla nshaya, a woman's hairdresser, is not even a near fit.  He is simply grasping at straws.  In his dealing condescendingly with the Magdalene, Lightfoot was hardly alone.  Over a thousand years before, in a famous address (or infamous, depending on one's point of view), Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD), drew a strong connection between demonic oppression and the Magdalene's surmised sinfulness.  In his Easter homily of 591 AD, he stated:

She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the

Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark.  And what did these

seven devils signify, if not all the vices? ...  It is clear, brothers, that the woman

previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts.

     From this statement one can see at work the practice of "eisegetical" interpretation,whereby that which isn't in the text is read into it anyhow.  Notice how Gregory says "it is clear, brothers" at the very point his argument is least clear.  So ingrained is this assumption that few Church communicants are aware that no scriptural basis exists for saying that the Magdalene had been a prostitute.  In 1969 the Second Vatican Council, in an attempt to make amends, removed from her title "penitent," also removed from the liturgical calendar for her feast day the traditional reading, Luke, chapter 7.

     Yet old stereotypes die hard.  Goings where no reputable scholar ever ought to go, movie producer, Mel Gibson, in his "Passion" identified the woman taken in adultery in John 8 as being the Magdalene and the late Pope, having been granted an advance screening, is alleged to have said, "it is as it was."  No, it isn't "as it was."  Not at all.  It is as the Church's misanthropic, hierarchical leadership has long misrepresented it as being.

     Had the Magdalene indeed been an adulteress, as charged, it would not matter, God's grace suffices.  But what is happening here is a concerted effort to reduce her stature by dredging up an invented past.  On this basis, theologians, various ones through the centuries, such as Augustine of Hippo, have made the claim that the Magdalene had to subject herself to the apostles so as to help her overcome her sinful nature.  Or they would say that Jesus let Thomas touch him, whereas he forbade the Magdalene to do so because she was abjectly sinful in a way that Thomas was not.  But this "touch me not" verse is entirely absent in the oldest, most authoritative gospel account, MS Pepys 2498.  But here's the clincher: in MS

/ 27.
Pepys 2498, the Magdalene is converted in chapter 31, while the incident involving the anonymous woman taken in adultery doesn't take place until chapter 58.  Were the adulterous lady really the Magdalene, then she must have done some serious backsliding after her conversion, only to be restored to everyone's good graces just in time for the Passion.  Nonsense.

     Moving on to a third explanation:
"Magdalene" does not mean "from Magdala," a Galilean fishing village, but its Hebrew meaning is "elevated," a suitable title for one whom Jesus elevated to be the apostles' apostle.   This epitaph for the Magdalene derives not from a place name taken from an obscure fishing village, nor was it a scarlet badge of shame; rather, as the following quote from Micah suggests, it was a title of profound and prophetic significance:

In that day, saith YHVH

will I assemble her that halteth,

and I will gather her that is driven out,

and her that I have afflicted;

and I will make her that halted a remnant,

and her that was cast far off a strong nation:

and YHVH shall reign over them in mount Zion

from henceforth, even for ever.

And thou O tower of the flock (Magdal-eder),

the strong hold of the daughter of Zion,

unto thee shall it come,

even the first dominion;

the kingdom shall come

to the daughter of Jerusalem.


     The Magdalene loved Jesus with all her heart and wasn't afraid to show it which set her apart from all others.  Whereas some had scoffed at her "wasting" expensive ointment on Jesus, Jesus made a point of saying that her deed should be remembered in perpetuity.  No idle gesture, the Magdalene stood by Jesus after all the rest had fled.  Truly, she is deserving of the sobriquet, "O tower of the flock."

     Among the last to leave the cross and the earliest to the grave site, the Magdalene gave good evidence as to who was her all.  Though she conversed with angels in the garden of Gethsemene, this was not a matter of consequence to her; all she wanted was to know what had been the disposition of the body of her Lord.  As she stood without the empty sepulchre weeping, a voice said to her, "Mary."  It is this same voice which each will hear who is called to the heavenly marriage feast.  By reason of her single-minded devotion, Mary has come to epitomize in idealized form more than just her gender but the entire community of faith which says "Come, Lord Jesus, Come!"   

/ 28.   
     From whence then came this term "Magdalene" if not from Jesus?  Who else would have been so bold as to identify Mary out of whom came seven demons as the Magdalene, that is, the "elevated one," if not he?  The implication of such an honorific is that she was appointed to exemplify the transformative power of grace.  Just as James represented Jesus' family, the house of David, the Desposyni, so Mary represents God's archetypal Bride.  Meanwhile the day approaches when Bride and Bridegroom will consummate their marriage:

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is

come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should

be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the

saints.  ... Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.

                                                                                                                  (Revelation 19:7-8, 9)
     Hailing from Bethany, a town but a mile from Jerusalem, Mary in all probability was present for Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, perhaps with palm fronds or flowers in hand:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;

Shout O daughter of Jerusalem:

behold thy king cometh unto thee:

he is just, and having salvation;

lowly, and riding upon an ass,

and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.

                                     (Zechariah 9:9)

      Mary's destiny was bound up with Jesus'.  Thus, paraphrasing Paul, when Jesus was crucified, the Magdalene, who was standing at the foot of his cross, through identification, was crucified with him.  When Jesus was buried, she, a "bearer of myrrh," through identification, was buried with him, having been baptized into his death.  When Jesus arose from death to life, she, through identification, arose with him in newness of life.  Thereafter the life she lived was not hers but his in her for she, through perfect identification, had presented herself a holy sacrifice, acceptable unto God.  Through this fellowship of sufferings, she found consolation.  No longer conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of her mind, she knew in a living way what was the good and acceptable will of God.  Poetically put:

Like the arm of the bridegroom over the bride,

so is my [the Lord's] yoke over those who know me.

(Odes of Solomon 42:8)

/ 29. 

The cry of the penitent.

My heart was cloven and its flower appeared;

and grace sprang up in it:

and it brought forth fruit to the Lord,

for the Most High clave my heart by His Holy Spirit

and searched my affection towards Him:

and filled me with His love.

And His opening of me became my Salvation;

and I ran in His way in His peace,

even in the way of truth:

from the beginning and even to the end

I acquired His knowledge:

and I was established upon the rock of truth,

where He had set me up:

and speaking waters touched my lips

from the fountain of the Lord without grudging:

and I drank and was inebriated with the living water

that doth not die;

and my inebriation was not one without knowledge,

but I forsook vanity and turned to the Most High my God,

and I was enriched by His bounty,

and I forsook the folly which is diffused over the earth;

and I stripped it off and cast it from me:

and the Lord renewed me in His raiment,

and possessed me by His light,

and from above He gave me rest in incorruption;

and I became like the land which blossoms

and rejoices in its fruits:

and the Lord was like the Sun

shining on the face of the land;

He lightened my eyes,

and my face received the dew;

and my nostrils enjoyed

the pleasant odour of the Lord;

and He carried me to His Paradise;

where is the abundance of the pleasure of the Lord;

and I worshipped the Lord on account of his glory;

and I said, Blessed, O Lord,

are they who are planted in thy land!
/ 30.
and those who have a place in thy Paradise;

and they grow by the fruits of thy trees.

And they have changed from darkness to light.

Behold! all thy servants are fair,

who do good works, and turn away from wickedness

to the pleasantness that is thine:

and they have turned back the bitterness

of the trees from them, when they were planted in thy land!

and those who have a place in thy Paradise;

and they grow by the fruits of thy trees.

And they have changed from darkness to light.

Behold! all thy servants are fair, who do good works,

and turn away from wickedness to the pleasantness

that is thine:

and they have turned back the bitterness of the trees from them,

when they were planted in thy land;

and everything became like a relic of thyself,

and a memorial for ever of thy faithful works.

For there is abundant room in thy Paradise,

and nothing is useless therein:

I am altogether filled with fruit;

glory be to thee, O God,

the delight of Paradise for ever. Halleliujah.

                                                              (Odes of Solomon, 11)

Canticle of Canticles (excerpted).

I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,

as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

Look not upon me, because I am black,

because the sun hath looked upon me:

My mother's children, were angry with me;

they made me the keeper of the vineyards;

but mine own vineyard have I not kept. ...

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
/ 31.

As the apple tree among the trees of the wood,

so is my beloved among the sons.

I sat down under his shadow with great delight,

and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

He brought me to the banqueting house,

and his banner over me was love.

The voice of my beloved!

behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains,

skipping upon the hills.

My beloved is like a roe or a young hart:

behold, he standeth at behind our wall,

he looketh forth at the window,

shewing himself through the lattice.

My beloved spake, and said unto me,

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth;

the time of the singing of birds is come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs,

 and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.

Arise my love, my fair one, and come away.

O my dove that art in the clefts of the rock,

in the secret places of the stairs,

let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice;

for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. ...

My beloved is mine, and I am his:

he feedeth among the lilies.

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away,

turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe

or a young hart upon the mountains of Bethaer. ...

Behold, thou art fair, my love, behold,

thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks,

thy hair is as a flock of goats,

that appear from mount Gilead.

Thy teeth are live a flock of sheep that are even shorn,

which came up from the washing;

/ 32.
whereof every one bear twins

 and none is barren among them.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet,

and thy speech is comely:

thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate with thy locks.

Thy neck is like a tower of David builded for an armory,

whereon there hang a thousand bucklers,

all shields of mighty men.

Thy two breasts are like two young roes

that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away,

I will get me to the mountains of myrrh,

and to the hill of frankincense.

Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse,

with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana,

from the top of Shenir and Hermon,

from the lions' dens,

from the mountains of the leopards.

Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse;

thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes,

with one chain of thy neck.

How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse!

how much better is thy love than wine!

and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! ...

Whither is thy beloved gone,

O thou fairest among women?

wither is thy beloved turned aside?

that we may seek him with thee.

My beloved is gone down into his garden,

to the bed of spices, to feed in the gardens,

and to gather lilies.

I am my beloved's, and he is mine:

he feedeth among the lilies. ...

Make hast, my beloved,

and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart

upon the mountain of spices.

/ 33.

     Juxtaposing Mary and James, the Magdalene and the Just, makes for sweet music wherein harmony and melody coincide, with a tune divine.  But for the better part of 2000 years Christendom has been denied the opportunity of hearing this music.  It is not as if the Way of the Nazarenes had been tried and found wanting; rather, the Way was found difficult and therefore ceased to be tried.  It is the bridge not taken, the path not followed to vistas not seen.  Instead of being all-encompassing, long ago the Way was shrunk down to mere religion, full of ceremony and hierarchy, signifying nothing.  In need not be so.  As religious innovators, Mary and James created their own religious environment, not so that we would be their followers but that we likewise might be innovators, that we might do something beautiful for God.

     Regarding James: he was strict with himself, yet magnanimous toward others; austere, yet generous.  Of him T. Zahn said:

[James] speaks like a prophet ... for forcefulness ... without parallel in early Christian

literature excepting the discourses of Jesus.

     With the temporizing, have-it-both-ways types, James was severe:

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God?

whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.                   (James 4:4)

     Severe when severity was required, James could also be sympathetic:

Ye have seen the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very

pitiful, and of tender mercy.                                                                                        (James 5:11)

     As for Mary, the Gospel of Mary reads:

The Savior said ... "Peace be with you.  Receive my peace to yourselves.  Beware that

no one leads you astray, saying, 'Lo here!' or 'Lo there!' for the Son of Man is within you.

Follow after Him!  Those who seek Him will find Him.  Go then and preach the gospel of

the kingdom.  Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give

a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it."                                            (chapter 4)

But they [the apostles] were grieved.  They wept greatly, saying, "How shall we go to the

Gentiles and preach the gospel of the kingdom of the Son of Man?  If they did not spare

him, how will they spare us?"  Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her

brethren, "Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for His grace will be entirely

with you and will protect you.  But rather let us praise His greatness, for He has prepared

us and made us into men."  When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good,

and they began to discuss the [Savior's] words.                                                      (chapter 5)
/ 34.

PART II: Nazarene Scripture.

Preservation of Scripture.

     Before delving into specifics regarding the Nazarene deposition, let us consider first the preservation of Scripture as a doctrine widely affirmed by those of evangelical persuasion.  The following, an abridgement on the subject by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary's Bill Combs, presents this doctrine's main tenets:

The purposes for Scripture, to teach, reprove, correct, and train (2 Tim 3:16) cannot be

fulfilled unless Scripture is preserved.  Matt 5:18 and John 10:35 strongly imply a doctrine of

preservation with their emphasis on the continuing authority of Scripture.   ... What ... would

be the purpose of producing an authoritative record (inspiration) and letting it perish?  Why,

for instance, let Paul write an inspired letter to the Romans and then have it perish on the way

to Rome?  If one denies a corollary between inspiration and preservation, Paul's letter could

have perished before it got to Rome.  And the letter to the Romans was not meant just for the

Romans.  ... "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction ..."

(Rom 15:4). Similarly, Paul says, "Now these things happened to them as an example, and

they were written for our instruction..." (1 Cor 10:11).

We are told neither the method nor the extent of this preservation. It is an indisputable fact,

proven by the manuscript and versional evidence, that God has not perfectly preserved the

Scriptures throughout their long history of transmission. ... the means he has chosen to use to

accomplish this preservation -- providentially, through secondary causation -- the words of the

autographs have not been inerrantly preserved.

Since preservation is by secondary causation, through ordinary human means, only by careful

examination of the preserved documents can the most accurate form of the text of Scripture

be identified and ultimately preserved.  The science (and art?) of textual criticism is thus

essential. ... Therefore, the goal of textual criticism should be the recovery of that inspired text

to the degree the documents will permit.

It is perfectly reasonable to assert a corollary between inspiration and preservation without

asserting that preservation be in every way equal to inspiration -- for example, that inerrant

inspiration demands inerrant preservation.

     I have no quarrel with this presentation so far as it goes.  But no discussion about preservation of Scripture is complete absent consideration of King Josiah's recovery of the lost book of Deuteronomy (see II Chronicles 34), which discovery sparked a revival in Jerusalem.  Analogously, much of the Nazarene deposition has survived in single manuscripts moldering away for centuries in obscure monastic libraries or hidden in jars in the dessert.  Only when the preservation doctrine is used prejudicially to promote a particular text type such as the "Majority Text" (otherwise known as the "Byzantine text type") as God's chosen text because more copies of it exists than do other form of text, does it become pernicious.  Far  
/ 35.
better is it to pursue truth than to shelter one's convenient presuppositions behind specious reasoning about God's intentions.  Or as one scholar, William Lane, observed, "An ounce of evidence is worth a pound of presumption." 

From whence came the New Testament?

     In the New Testament, one cannot find a connection between the Magdalene and James.  It's not there.  The last mention of the Magdalene occurs in John, chapter 20,the day Jesus went from death to life; while the first reference to James beyond the bare mention of his name is Acts, chapter 12, some decades later.  Yes, 'tis true, both James and Mary were all but read out of the New Testament.  But who would havedone that and why?  Meanwhile, in various non-canonical gospels, both play a prominent, if not paramount, role and in the secondary literature, James figures more prominently than any other New Testament figure, including Jesus, which is why we are able to reconstruct his life and teachings.  In this regard, an obscure, if suggestive, reference comes from a heretic hunter of that period, Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-236
AD).  In a five volume work titled: Refutation of all Heresies (portions of which have survived to our day), he identifies a certain sect, the Naassene, as having been the first of many heretical sects to have arisen; of it he said, that they had "... very numerous discourses which James the brother of the Lord handed down to Mariamne."  Was this a made up tale or was it based on historical knowledge?  It is not implausible that James and Mary were collaborators inasmuch as James lived in Jerusalem and Mary in Bethany less than a mile away.  While I hold no brief for the Naassene sect, the point is that at a time when the Church's canonical gospels were assiduously ignoring Mary and James, others were taking them quite seriously.  For nearly 2000 years the Church barred the door against Jews of James' stripe and women of Mary's stripe, but outside its jurisdiction, always, there has been a remnant few who have welcomed them.

     Between the world's largest, richest, longest surviving religious institution, namely the Church, and the little flock of Jesus, as represented by Mary and James, lies an ongoing controversy.  At the heart of this controversy is the New Testament.  If it's valid, apostolic, indeed, the very word of God, then it is a closed question, Mary and James are but marginal figures, for that is how they are portrayed.  Prior, therefore, to any other consideration, if they are to get a fair hearing or ever be taken seriously, we must tackle head-on the issue of the New Testament's legitimacy.  Though calling into question the authenticity of the best-selling religious text of all time could seem to be a showstopper, there's no sidestepping this issue.  It ought to be faced squarely.

     What then of the New Testament?  The term itself cannot be traced before 200 AD. But let us not hang up on terminology, what of its contents, are they apostolic?  For generations scholars have grappled with this question without coming to consensus. 
/ 36.
     Certainly much of value has been learned through the process of investigation but the findings are not easily characterized.  It is, after all, an arcane field of study.  Before getting down to specifics, let us consider the New Testament's role:

The New Testament is in the Old concealed;  the Old Testament is in the New revealed.

     This, Augustine's famous dictum, passes for deep insight in many Christian circles.  On its face it seems fair enough but can it withstand scrutiny?  Compare it then to the following:

The Messiah in the Scriptures is concealed; the Scriptures by the Messiah is revealed.

     Unmistakably by Augustine's formulation, the New Testament has come to occupy the place Jesus intended to occupy.  It is Jesus, not the New Testament, which is the prophetic antitype.  He is the one who fulfills biblical types.  And let us not call it "Old Testament/New Testament."  Those are not legitimate terms.  Just as there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, so also is there one body of Scripture - not bifurcated, Old and New.  Neither the term, New Testament (the concept) or the book were derived from Jesus - nor from his apostles either.  Nor is it just Mary and James who were given short shrift therein but Jesus also, for, when refracted through a New Testament lens, he is seen in a different, distorted light than when seen through the Scriptures which the Church did not have a chance to tamper with.

     While including much that is apostolic, the New Testament also contains extraneous material.  While containing some of God's words, it is not in every respect "the Word of God."  But it's just here that we come up against the heartfelt convictions of fundamentalists who look, for instance to support from the renowned scholar, Sir Frederic Kenyon, associated with the British Museum.  In 1895 in a book titled: Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, he wrote:

It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain.  ...

Especially is this the case with the New Testament.  The Christian can take the whole Bible

in his hand and say without fear of hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God,

faithfully handed down from generation to generation throughout the centuries.

     But let us keep this in perspective, even as C. S. Lewis invites us to do:

It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God.  The Bible, read in the

right Spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.          (Letters)

     However that may be, should it turn out that the New Testament is demonstrably a 2nd Century, Church product, instead of 1st Century and apostolic,
/ 37. 
then what had been a closed question regarding Mary and James immediately turns around to become an open question.

     Now we have in hand something more substantial than guesswork or scholarly deduction.  Beyond a reasonable doubt we have an authoritative gospel narrative provably older than the gospels commonly attributed to the apostles Matthew and John and their colleagues, Mark and Luke.  It is here and now, translated, published, and available to all who care to study it.  It changes entirely the dynamic of the discussion about Mary and James and much else besides.  Is it a threat to faith?  To the contrary, it puts the Faith on a firmer foundation.  The document I am referring to is MS Pepys 2498.

Recovering the crown jewel, the Nazarene Gospel, an amazing survival.

     Let us consider then this unique 14th Century, Middle English manuscript, MS Pepys 2498.  Once belonging to the famous diarist, Samuel Pepys, it is presently housed in the Magdalene College library, Cambridge, England.  Published originally by the Early English Texts Society in 1922, it attracted little attention until 2002 when Yuri Kuchinsky's modern English translation of it appeared.  As he put it: "What was previously merely a matter for speculation now lies in broad daylight."

     At the beginning of the last century, a team of scholars assigned by Cambridge University examined MS 2498.  Drawn from its medieval studies department, evidently their expertise ran more toward Chaucer than the Bible, for all too hastily they pronounced it "a medieval harmony."  In consequence, biblical scholars with manuscripts a 1000 years older to work with paid it but scant notice, for who needs a medieval harmony?  (Evidently very few; for instance, my university, inter-library loan copy, though being 80 + years old, had never had its pages cut.)

     There matters rested until recently, when Kuchinsky gave MS 2498 its first proper inspection, and found good indication of its having had a primitive, Jewish-Christian gospel as its progenitor.  Unlike its more sophisticated, canonical cousins with their dependent clauses and large vocabularies, its simplified sentence structure points rather to a Semitic substrate, than to a Greek substrate, the implication being that its exemplar was of an earlier generation.  This is a testable proposition.  Were it merely a harmony of medieval origin, there would not be, as indeed there are, traces of its language in pre-medieval, Aramaic, Parthian, and Latin biblical texts and commentaries.  Also, in its wealth of detail and in its grasp of chronological sequence, it goes well beyond what can be derived from the canonicals.  
/ 38.
     Being in part a harmony but, for the most part, a synopsis of the four proto- gospels which underlie the four canonicals, MS 2498 has as its base text proto- Matthew.  With very little attempt at integration, the other three proto-gospels are added in blocks, the least synthesized being proto-John which is added in six large blocks until the Passion, after which smaller blocks of text are employed.  Identifying the source of any particular text is relatively easy, made more so by Kuchinsky's chapter notes.

     One of its unique, distinguishing characteristics is the complete absence of SoMs; that is to say, in the canonicals more than 70 times Jesus self-references as "the Son of Man," but in MS 2498 he never does so.  Indicative of the cursory nature of previous examinations, Kuchinsky was the first to spot this curious anomaly some 80 years after the manuscript's initial publication.  As an embellishment, this expression lends to Jesus a certain, magisterial air, conceivably an inducement for adding it.  As yet no plausible motive for removing SoMs has surfaced.

     Another example confirming the impression of antiquity is the comparison of canonical John's and MS 2498's accounts of the marriage at Cana.  In MS 2498 there is a feast but no marriage and rather than creating upwards of 30 gallons of wine, Jesus created only three.  Canonical John's expansions well illustrate the human tendency to exaggerate.  But what would induce a scribe to minimize this story?  Or, rather, we should say, multiple scribes, since Kuchinsky has located texts in five different languages separately corroborating aspects of MS 2498's version.  As the author of
The Gospels in Four Part Harmony, 2001, J. Clontz,  informs us:

Below are some important academic notes concerning the PGH (Pepysian Gospel Harmony,

otherwise identified as MS Pepys 2498) sequence of the gospels:

The PGH mentions the city of Gerasa which was an ancient city in Palestine which was

destroyed by the 10th Roman legion Firensis in AD 70. Only the very oldest existing

manuscripts of the canonical gospels mention the city of Gerasa while later manuscripts

refer to the area as the land of the Gerasenes.  Thus the author of the original source of

the PGH may have lived prior to AD 70.

The sequence of the PGH also parallels many aspects of the theoretical "Q" text. The

Greek texts of Matthew and Luke in some areas are letter for letter matches which have

led some scholars to theorize that at one time a single text "Q" was formed from an early

form of Matthew and of Luke and then later portions of our modern forms of Matthew and

Luke were copied from this single gospel text. Additionally, in the modern text of Luke the

"Parable of the Lamp" occurs in both Chapter 8 and Chapter 11. It has been theorized that

an early text that contained Luke had only one "Parable of the Lamp" and that the parable

was either cut in half or duplicated in our modern texts. The PGH sequence combines

portions of Luke Ch. 8 and 11 and only has a single account of the "Parable of the Lamp"

/ 39.
just as some scholars have theorized would've existed in the single gospel forerunner of

the modern text of Luke.

Scholars have also theorized that the "Q" text would've been constructed into categories

and composed of lists such as a list of parables.  This idea was formulated in part based on

the gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi.  The PGH does form the gospel account into

categories or groupings and there are two major groupings of parables in its sequence just

as theorized for the "Q" text.

The event sequence of the PGH also enhances the account of the four gospels.  The

sequence produces cause and effect relationships between events and the interactions of

various individuals with each other and with Jesus. For instance, The PGH sequence contains

both Mary Magdalene's conversion and subsequent discipleship (this is in the modern gospel

texts but is somewhat obscured due to their non-chronological sequence).  Thus Mary

Magdalene plays a major role in the account of Jesus which is implied by many ancient

sources such as the gospel of Thomas but not highlighted by the canonical gospels in their

present sequence.  The same is true for the significance of John the Baptist in Jesus' ministry.

In the PGH sequence, John the Baptist is portrayed as an important ally of Jesus' ministry

and his arrest and later death are both pivotal moments in Jesus ministry as portrayed by

the PGH sequence.  The importance of John the Baptist in the ministry of Jesus is implied

by many ancient sources and that importance is vividly depicted in Jesus' ministry using

the PGH sequence of the canonical gospels.

Moreover, the PGH is the only manuscript in existence which depicts an error free

chronological sequence for the events in the life of Jesus as portrayed in the four canonical

gospels.  The four canonical gospels make no claim to being written in chronological

sequence.  There are historical/traditional accounts that indicate that the four canonical

gospels were not written in chronological order.  For instance, Papias (AD 135) indicated

that Mark was not in any particular order.  An engineered reconstruction of the chronological

order of the gospels indicates that while several sequences are possible -- the sequence of the

modern gospels is not in chronological order.  For instance, the passage in Mark 3:13-19 not

only precedes the passage in Mark 3:20-31 by over a dozen events but in fact several

passages in Mark actually occur between Mark 3:13-19 and Mark 3:20-31.

Also, while there have been many modern attempts to reconstruct the sequence of the events

of Jesus life as narrated in the four canonical gospels none of these reconstructions has as

many parallels to the theoretical "Q" text as the PGH.  Furthermore the theory for the "Q"

text was first proposed in the 1800?s and the PGH manuscript predates the "Q" text theory

by 400 years.  Thus the best candidate to date for the "Q" text sequence is the PGH


/ 40.
More importantly, the best manuscript for a chronological depiction of the actual

sequence of events in the life of Jesus is The Pepys Gospel Harmony MS 2498.

                                                            (The Gospels in Four Part Harmony, 2001 by J. Clontz)

    A century ago, fragments of a biblical text were discovered by archaeologists in central Asia, in the city of Turfan, Turkistan.  These fragments have unique textual agreements with MS 2498, including a passage lacking a SoM.  This fits a pattern worldwide: in faraway places, beyond the reach of Rome, in obscure languages such as Old Armenian, Sogdian, Osmaniac, evidence of a prior gospel is found. 

Working out the implications: accounting for MS 2498.

     MS 2498 has been described as an "abbreviating text," meaning that many of Jesus'teachings are only alluded to or not included at all.  The explanation for this could lie in its having been created in the 1st Century before the codex form had come into vogue, i.e., before individual pages were folded and bound together to form a volume.  For example, we do not speak of the Dead Sea Books but the Dead Sea Scrolls.  As a practical matter, the scroll format limits length.  As it is, MS 2498's unified narrative, i.e., one gospel from multiple witnesses, is quite lengthy and perhaps it would have been prohibitively lengthy were the full compliment of teachings included.  It's logical to suppose that a companion sayings gospel was created but, if so, either it has not survived or else it has not yet to come to light.  (Which is not to say that Jesus' saying are lost, for they are embedded in the canonicals as well as in the Gospel of Thomas.)

     As one of the more learned scholars of our time whose area of expertise is in the study of the Diatessaron, William Petersen, wrote:

... in 1992 M.-E. Bosmard published a book in which he argued that in addition to

Tatian's Diatession, the harmony used by Justin had also left a mark on the harmonized

gospel tradition.  He singled out the Pepsian Harmony [MS 2498] as the best surviving

witness to this pre-Tatianic harmony.  This raises the possibility that the "abbreviating"

character of the Pepsian Harmony and what Plooij called "mutilation" (when compared

with other Diatessonic witnesses) may in reality, stem from the fact that it represents a

distinct textual tradition, one which is related to the Diatessaron - for Tatian seems to

have used Justin's harmony when he created the Diatessaron - but anterior to it. 

                                                                                                                (Tatian's Diatessaron)

     The operative word above is "anterior."  If the text of MS Pepys 2498 predates Tatian's Diatessonic harmony, then its text is, indeed, early.  In his Apology dedicated in about 150 AD to Emperor Antoniunus (138-165 AD), Justin Martyr (105-168 AD), made reference to the weekly public reading of the "Memoirs of the Apostles."  Though  quoting gospel texts a couple of dozen times yet he never mentions individual evangelists and none of his quotations properly align with the 
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canonicals as we know them, leading scholars to conclude that he was working from a different text than now exists.  Regarding this, the Catholic Encyclopedia states:

It is quite probable that Justin used a concordance or harmony, in which were united

the three synoptic Gospels and it seems that the text of this concordance resembled

in more than one point the so-called Western text of the Gospels.

     Besides Justin's harmony, the Catholic Encyclopedia also makes reference to a
second harmony:

... a hearer of Justin, Tatian wrote many works.  Only two have survived.  One of these

is "Oratio Graecos" (Pros Hellanes),  ... The other extent work is the "Diatessaron", a

harmony of the four Gospels containing in continuous narrative the principle events

in the life of Our Lord.

     The foregoing is not merely the view of Catholic scholars but is the scholarly consensus of all persuasions.  The only disputed points are whether the Diatessaron was originally composed in Syriac or in Greek; also whether it was actually Tatian who created it or someone else.  However those questions may be resolved, the salient point here is the clear progression that exists from Justin's less synthesized Memoirs to the highly synthesized Diatessaron.  When MS 2498 is added to the equation, what we have are three distinct harmonies with MS 2498 appearing to preserve the earliest, least synthesized text, a point Kuchinsky ably demonstrates in his exposition of Matthew 19:16-17 titled "Rich Man's Question."

     Another point: all three harmonies share certain affinities with the so-called "Western" text, the significance of which is that this was the text of the 2nd century Church Fathers. Though surviving in but one Greek manuscript, Codex Beza, the Western Text is represented by the Old Latin (a text form later replaced by Jerome's Vulgate) also by the Old Syriac (a text form later replaced by the Peshita.)  It has been aptly suggested that the "Western Text" might more appropriately be referred to as the Syrio-Latin Text inasmuch as the earliest Latin and Syriac gospels are "Western."  Indeed, in this regard, one of the most recognized authorities in the field of biblical studies, F. C. Burkitt, over a century ago saw that even calling it "Western" was a misnomer, for, as he said:

... we must recognize that the earliest texts of the Gospels were fundamentally "Western" in

every country of which we have knowledge, even in Egypt.  If we have any real trust in

antiquity, any real belief in the continuity of Christian tradition, we must be prepared to

admit many "Western" readings as authentic, as alone having a historical claim to originality.
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     The three commonly recognized texts are the Alexandrian, thought to have arisen in, or at least favored by, Alexandria to the south; the Byzantine which was favored  by, Byzantium in the east; and the Western Text, alleged to have arisen in Italy to the west (but, in reality, was everywhere, north, east, south, west.)  The Alexandrian is preserved in the oldest complete NT, the Codex Sinaiticus, and is favored by most Ph.D. biblical scholars.  The Byzantine, also called the Majority Text because the vast majority of Greek manuscripts, some 5000, are of this textual tradition, is the one from which the King James Version was translated.  It too is championed by many.  Meanwhile, the Western Text, though having the best claim to originality as Burkitt points out above, is all but an orphan.

     From early times mention is made in the historical record of a fifth gospel, one often termed the Gospel According to the Hebrews.  A question-begging title, it invites the inference that other gospels might have been of Gentile provenance.  As early as 1814, J.C. Zahn identified this Hebrew gospel as the one Justin Martyr was using.  Is it possible that that which is commonly called the fifth gospel was, or at least was derived from, that which was the first?

     In 62 AD came troublous times beginning with the martyrdom of James, followed by the flight of Jerusalem's Nazarene community to Pella in 66 AD, after which camethe siege of Jerusalem, followed by the temple's destruction in 70 AD.  As confirmedby 20th Century archeological excavation, the believing community returned, reestablishing itself in Jerusalem on the very site where the Last Supper occurred.  On regrouping there, there might well have been a strong incentive to harmonize the movement's multiple gospel accounts into one narrative, thus justifying the creation of MS 2498's progenitor.  On James' demise, Simeon, Cleopas' son was unanimously chosen to exercise oversight in Jerusalem.  Reputed to have lived to the ripe age of 120 before he himself was martyred, he would have had the requisite stature to authorize the harmonizing of the movements' competing or, if you will, complementary gospel accounts.  Lending credence to this scenario, at that time there were yet those who understood the chronological sequence - which is one of MS 2498's chief virtues - that its narrative makes sense.

Credit given where credit due.

     By rescuing from oblivion the core document of the Faith, it might be supposed that Kuchinsky would qualify as one of Christendom's greatest benefactors, yet both he  and his findings are roundly ignored.  Insofar as the Church is concerned, Kuchinsky, like Francis of Assisi, might as well be out preaching to the birds.  Catholic theologians are probably not much perturbed by his discovery inasmuch as a Roman Catholic claim of long-standing is that the Church had the authority to write the Scriptures. 

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     Nothing fazes those who believe in the plenary authority of the Church, an organization presumably vested by heaven to rule the earth.  Conversely, Protestantism has long maintained that it was the apostles, not the Church, who wrote the New Testament and so Kuchinsky's findings, once they no longer can be ignored, will pose a profound dilemma striking at Protestantism's core reason to exist.  Christendom's problem is that it can hardly acknowledge Kuchinsky's findings without at the same time admitting its responsibility in the first place for losing it.  And since that admission is too humiliating, this discovery is passed over in silence, for what other world religion ever willingly parted with its core documents?  And what if the Church didn't simply "lose" them but actively suppressed them?

     Now as sweet balm to parched lips comes Yuri Kuchinsky's discovery.  While this should not cause us to lose sight of the fact that his interest is driven by scholarly considerations from a Unitarian standpoint, not faith, it remains true that he is one of Christendom's greatest benefactors.  (I can only imagine that were he to receive the accolades due him, that he might feel as over-honored as King Haile Salassie of Ethiopia did that fine day in 1966 when his plane landed in Kingston, Jamaica and he looked out the porthole to see a 100,000 worshipful Rastafarians with their dreadlocks and colorful robes camped on the tarmac below.)

Non-canonical gospels.

     If the canonicals are not to be accepted uncritically, neither should the non- canonical gospels be rejected uncritically.  Both categories have valid and invalid elements.  Nevertheless, the standard academic line remains that of Robert M. Grant, Professor of New Testament, University of Chicago:  In his book, he states:

... since the norms for determining authenticity must lie within the canonical gospels,

it is hard to see what contribution apocryphal gospels could make even if some of the

material in them should be judged genuine.    (A Introduction to the New Testament)

     This type of reasoning may have had its day once but for a host of reasons is passe.  By availing ourselves of MS 2498, we can dispense with the notion that the canonicals are "the norms."  However implausible, the standard, academic line is to deny the existence of a Hebrew or Aramaic original.  Who do they suppose the Galilean fishermen were, Greek scholars?  Once it is recognized that the canonicals cannot be relied upon without reservation, then the door is open to other sources of information.  From long dependence on a single textual tradition, the Alexandrian, the basis for the vast majority of modern New Testament translational activity, a kind of mental laziness has overtaken the field of biblical study.  At first, parting
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with this accustomed crutch will seem painful, nevertheless doing so is not without its compensations: narrow certitude may be out, but the joy of unfettered discovery is in.

     As before touched upon, helping fuel the current interest in James and Mary was a significant archeological find, a precious lode of texts hidden in an earthenware vessel.  Pulled from the sands of upper Egypt near a place called Nag Hammadi in 1945 by an alert, Arab farmer, Mohammed Ali, 13 codices comprising 52 texts were recovered.  Preserved seemingly miraculously, they had been sequestered in a hillside cave about 1,500 years before.  Slowly but surely, these texts have been working their way into public awareness, along the way altering perceptions about Christian origins.

     Both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi collections were hidden away for the same reason, to escape destruction either by the Romans, or by Rome's surrogate, the Church.  Through confiscation and the pyre, the Church assiduously sought to erase from memory any telling of the gospel other than its own.

     The failure to destroy all the evidence puts one in mind of Moses who, when he was 40 years old, slew an Egyptian and then buried him in the sands of Egypt.  Evidently he left a toe sticking up out of the sand, because word of his deed got out and he had to flee.  Likewise, though it generally went about its self-appointed task of suppression with great diligence, the Church overlooked a few texts whose survival, albeit tattered  and torn, will prove in the long run most detrimental to its cause.  History it's said is written by the winners.  For a long while the Church was that winner but the truth will out in the end.  It is our privilege to relate an alternative telling and assess its value.

     In his most famous surviving work, Against Heresies, Irenaeus made many an argument against non-canonical gospels.  The one argument he did not make, indeed, dared not make, is that of priority.  All he would have had to do to clinch his case was show that the canonicals are older and thus more original.  But this he did not attempt to do and for good reason.  Too many people were around at that time, the late 2nd Century, who knew otherwise, who could have called him on it.

... there has always been a synoptic problem, ever since the three Gospels appeared

together in the canon of the New Testament.  ... every attempt at solution seemed only

to add to the difficulty of finding an adequate one; ... 

                                              (James Iverach, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

     So many contradictory hypotheses to contend with, so many scholars to advance them!  For instance, there is the oral hypothesis tradition first advanced by Gieseler in 1818 and later upheld by Alford and Wescott.  But this did not adequately explain all the verbal agreements.  Thereafter a variety of mutual use hypotheses
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came into being in which each of the three synoptic gospels has been accorded - by reputable scholars, I might say - first, second, or third place chronologically.  Each has been described as either the  source for, or else as having been derived from, the others with every possible combination having its advocates.  For a century Ph.D candidates have intently scrutinized the texts and have advanced and exploded innumerable theories without coming to consensus: there is Streeter and Holtzmann's Two Source Hypothesis; the Greisbach Hypothesis championed by Farmer; the Farrar Hypothesis backed by Goulder; the Jerusalem School Hypothesis; the Augustinian Hypothesis wherein Mark is seen as the last gospel to have been written, a view adopted by F. Baur and the Tubingen school etc, etc. ad nauseam.  'Round and 'round we go.  The average Church communicant, knowing little about the growing body of research presented here, in all sincerity struggles on, trying to make sense of that which is supposedly "apostolic" but is not.  (I know: for 35 years that was your's truly.)  But if we'd stop and think about it, we would see that it's not credible that any of the canonical gospels were written by a single individual, much less by an apostle.  The complex web of interrelationships and mutual borrowings required a long-developing process.  Verbatim agreements demonstrate literary dependence and why would eyewitnesses shamelessly crib word-for-word from each other?

     Some thirty years before the Gospel of Thomas was recovered from the sands of Egypt, Rendel Harris, anticipated its recovery.  He wrote:

It has been my habit for some time past, to warn my students that the Christian literature does

not necessarily begin with the New Testament, and certainly not with the Gospels; that there

are traces of previous documentary matter on which the  accepted and canonical New

Testament depends; and that, until we have learnt to recognize and isolate these primitive

deposits, we shall constantly be making mistakes in out interpretation of the New Testament

and the Apostolic Fathers.  And, in particular I tell them that there are two lost documents of

the early Christian propaganda, occurring in various forms, sufficiently alike to constitute a

cycle or type, the traces of which are to be found constantly in the first period of the

literature of the Church. ...  Of these the first is the Collection of the Sayings of Jesus, the

second is the Book of Testimonies from the Old Testament.  The first of these underlies the

Gospels, and is especially an instrument for the conversion of the Gentiles: the second is an

instrument for the refutation of the Jews. ... when we have reduced our prejudices in favor of

the antiquity of the Gospels to more sober limits, we shall ultimately agree well enough as

to the Book of Sayings and its antiquity and value.                                         (Testimonies, vol. 1


The grass withers, the flower fades,

but the word of our God shall stand for ever.   (Isaiah 40:8)    
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A change of Scripture signifies a change of religion.  For instance, the Samaritans  have the Torah i.e., the five Books of Moses, plus Joshua.  That is all.  This, their  canon, represents their understanding as to what constitutes God's standard for sacred literature.  Rabbinical Judaism has the Tenakh, thirty-nine books consisting of Torah (Law), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings); Roman Catholicism has 73 books, consisting of testaments Old and New.  (Included in this number are seven books,sometimes referred to as inter-testamental, deutero-canonical, or apocryphal yet, in their view, canonical); Orthodoxy has 75 books; Protestantism, 66; the Mormons, 80 plus, while the Church in Ethiopia has two canons - one long, one short.

      In part, it is a matter of allegiance: the Samaritans look to Moses but not to David.  The Jews look to David but not to Jesus; Christians generally look to the Jesus of the New Testament while Mormons look to all of the above, plus Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  But who has the right to determine which books are in and which are out?  To say that it's self-evident or obvious when all the while thoughtful, well-educated people differ, is to fly in the face of the facts.  The existence of many canons is proof that no consensus exists.  While it should be a matter of private judgment, every communion takes pride in its own canon.  How seriously is this taken?  Very.  For instance, a little known fact regarding the Bible's removal from American public schools: it did not happen, as one might suppose, in the 20th Century due to a challenge from atheists or by the ACLU but in the 19th Century due to a conflict between immigrant Catholics and Protestants in Boston.  No room for compromise existed.  No one wanted their child exposed to someone else's Bible, be it King James or Douay.

Is it possible to believe in God but not believe in God's miracle:

a Bible perfectly preserved,
complete, knowable?

                                          (Miriam Weinstein, A Nation of Words)

     Actually, living with ambiguity and uncertainty is far better than having the kind of cocksure, know-it-all certitude that commonly passes for biblical learning.  Thus, in response to Miriam Weinstein's question, the answer is, unequivocally, yes, for only  the anxious-minded would care to see the great, unfathomable ocean that is the Bible  reduced to a "knowable" backwater which is biblicism.  Typically, hierarchical denominationalism, be it rabbinical Judaism or organized Christianity, does not encourage its communicants to think for themselves which is why it defines minutely the doctrines that are to be believed and from which they are not to deviate.  Yet it is a believer's prerogative to form his or her own opinions and change them as he or she grows.  Thinking to clarify matters, organized religion only muddles them further by attempting to define for their respective members what constitutes God's Word, then, compounding error with error, attempting to define its meaning.  While this may help bind a communion's adherents together more tightly, it necessarily alienates all others whose scriptural canons or interpretations differ, a surefire recipe for division.  The
remedy is respect for
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individual judgment.  If Jesus is the Truth, then the Bible is but the truth about the Truth, while our interpretation of the Bible is, at best, the truth about the truth about the Truth.  To make a litmus test of our interpretation is to go the sectarian road.

     To say, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it," settles nothing.  Do we really know what God said?  And if so, do we really know what He meant or how to apply the meaning correctly?  Where then lies the path between denying altogether the possibility of identifying God-inspired books and dependance on a religious institution to define them for us?  It would be for us to make this a matter of personal discovery, not by starting with a doctrinal claim, but with a question mark.  After that, instead of expecting a once-for-all discovery, let's make of it an ongoing adventure of discovery.  Only the experiential approach can make the Bible come alive.  Far better is it to form a point of view slowly, hesitantly, than smugly thinking it's all so simple and self-evident.  Maybe it is not God's communicating inadequately, but our listening inattentively that is the source of misunderstanding, for, in substituting what is programmatic and mechanistic, do we not inadvertently tune out the Spirit?

     Since it impinges on our understanding of Mary and James, let us ask again, which Bible, whose Bible?  To such Protestants as adhere to the swinging-door theory, that God closed the Old Testament canon 400 years before opening it again for the New, it will come as no small surprise to learn that the Nazarenes' canon of Scripture looked rather more like Orthodoxy's and Catholicism's canon than their own, which is to say that the idea of an inter-testamental period Protestant theologians is a fictitious construct.  (Evidence confirming this comes from J. Rendel Harris' recovery of Matthew's Testimonia demonstrating much Nazarene dependence on the so-called "deutero-canonical" books to establish Jesus' messianic claim.)  If anything, however, the Nazarene's Scriptural canon is as distinct from those already mentioned as they are from each other.

       If we want to know more about the religion of Mary and James, we would do well to find out what they were reading - as well as what they were writing - as Scripture.  But let us not suppose in the absence of an authoritative pronouncement from God (of which there is none) that they held doctrinaire views on the matter.  As the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, translators observe:

At the time of Jesus and rabbi Hillel - the origins of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism - there

was, and there was not, a "Bible."  ... There was a Bible in the sense that there were certain

sacred books widely recognized by the Jews as foundational to their religion and supremely

authoritative for religious practice.  There was not, however, a Bible in the sense that the

leaders of the general Jewish community had specifically considered, debated, and
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definitively decided the full range of which books were supremely and permanently

authoritative and which ones - no matter how sublime, useful, or beloved - were not.

     While it is not necessarily what one believes but how one construes it that counts (which is why good people are found spread liberally amongst all the various communions), seeing Jesus through the apostolic writings, rather than through a distorted New Testament lens, can only help.  My intention is to make good the claim that with  a deft hand, the Church subtly, but systematically, skewed Jesus' portrayal in its "canonical" New Testament gospels as one who was aloof not only from women in general, or the Magdalene in particular, but from John the Baptizer, Jesus' own disciples, his family, his brother James included, as well as his Jewish people.  By gratuitously portraying a less human, less humane, more God-like Jesus who was often angry, arbitrary and enigmatic, the Church authorities cunningly increased their own latitude to act arbitrarily and capriciously. By confusing the time-line, they turned what had been a straightforward narrative accessible to laymen, into a never ending source of controversy for theologians.  Giving the Magdalene and James short shrift was no accident; it was all part of a bid to replace the original apostolic community with a Gentile organization.  But it didn't stop there, paganism was replaced as well.  How was this accomplished?  Very ingeniously.  Just as the Church had purloined the Nazarenes' Scriptures, so also would it mine the pagans' feast and ceremonies, stealing their thunder, as it were, judiciously taking what served its purposes, rejecting what didn't.  Though it was quite a stretch, the Church, in fusing monotheism with paganism, created a curious, new hybrid, a speckled bird.  

Diversity of approach.

     Standing behind the various gospel accounts, vouching for them, championing them, were different constituencies, variously identified as Petrine, Jacobean, Magdalene,  Pauline, Thomasine. etc.  For instance, there are indications that Peter, the impetuous,but not overly educated fisherman, was the source for Mark's Gospel, that Matthew's Gospel was influenced by religiously observant Jews, even those associated with James in Jerusalem; that Luke's Gospel, which seems more inclusive of Samaritans and the dispossessed in general was Galilean, and, finally, as previously considered, that the Magdalene played a key role in the development of John's Gospel.

     The dichotomy between the synoptics on the one hand and Thomas and John on the other apparently goes back to the beginning of the Nazarene movement, even to John the Baptist, and there is reason to think that it even dates to the Baptist's wilderness sojourn, our best source regarding this being MS Pepys 2498 which informs us that:

And as soon as he [John] had come of age he went into the desert and dwelled there until

the Holy Ghost commanded him to go and preach the coming of Jesus Christ.  (chapter 2)
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           ... he went into the desert until he was thirty years old. (chapter 7)

     The implication is that he was in the wilderness for ten or perhaps twelve years. Since an Essene community was situated on the Dead Sea, it is widely assumed that John the Baptist must have been associated with them.  Indeed, so strong runs this assumption that it is not uncommon to see him termed "John the Essene."  Somehow, none of this quite computes.  The Essenes, because of their rigorous purification laws, lived a highly structured existence.  It was necessary for them to create a closed society, isolated from all other Jews, much less from Gentiles.  It is hard to imagine how John the Baptist might have fit in.  Of him, MS 2498 relates:

And St. John ate nothing but wild garlic and bryony and his clothes were of camel's

hair, and he had a thong about his waist.                                                            (chapter 7)

     Not explained is how a free-wheeling John the Baptist would ever have accepted, much less been accepted in, a sectarian environment as rigidly defined as that of the Essenes.  Does that mean by default that the only option left him was for him to be an isolated hermit?  Not necessarily for there were others in the wilderness besides Essenes with whom he might have become acquainted.

The Mandaean connection.

     As we have seen, an enduring mystery for scholars has been the unmistakable contrast in tone and content between John's Gospel and the three synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  This centuries-old puzzle for scholars only deepened with the discovery in 1909 of the earliest Christian hymnbook, the Odes of Solomon, and deepened yet again in 1945 with the discovery of the Coptic text of the Gospel of Thomas, for both of these texts have numerous, albeit subtle, affinities with John's Gospel.  Instead of just one aberrant text, now scholars find themselves trying to account for an entire body of related literature.  Initially the assumption was that such congruences as existed amongst these texts were based on dependence on John.  Further study, however, has not borne this out.  Now the generally accepted view is that all these writings arose in a common milieu.  Still, this begs the questions, when and how did this dichotomy between the three Synoptics and John and Thomas arise?  A  follow-on question: why did the 2nd Century Nazarene movement morph into two opposing camps, one represented by the Church, the other by the Gnostics?  By building on the foundation already laid down regarding Mary's role in authoring proto-John, we will seek a resolution to this puzzling question.  The situation we have uncovered is this, that the Magdalene courageously perpetuated among the Nazarenes the wisdom of a people not even Jewish but Persian.  In this she was not alone: Jesus and John the
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Baptist had proceeded her but once they were no longer on the scene, it fell  to her to carry forward with this aspect of their legacy.  Why would that be?  Maybe  because Mary had a clearer understanding than others did that God's Light was not exclusively Jewish.  More so than others, she appears to have distinguished the outer husk of religious observance from the core of spiritual reality.  In the Pistis Sophia, a late Gnostic work, yet one containing some early Nazarene material, the Risen Lord avers:

"You [the Magdalene] are she whose heart is more directed to

the Kingdom of Heaven than all your brothers."  (26:17-20)

     That many things from John the Baptist's life didn't make it into the Synoptics but found their way rather into John's Gospel (or should we say "the Magdalene's Gospel?) is not a recent observation.  Over 1,500 years ago John Chrysostom wrote:

The Evangelists distributed the periods amongst them; and Matthew having cut short

his notice of the time before John the Baptist was bound, hastens to that which follows,

while the Evangelist John not only does not cut short this period, but dwells most on it.

Matthew, after the return of Jesus from the wilderness, saying nothing of the intermediate

circumstances, as what John spake, and what the Jews sent and said, and having cut

short all the rest, passes immediately to the prison. "For," saith he, "Jesus having heard"

that John was betrayed, "departed thence." (Matt. 14:13.)  But John does not so.  He is

silent as to the journey into the wilderness, as having been described by Matthew; but

he relates what followed the descent from the mountain, and after having gone through

many circumstances, adds, "For John was not yet cast into prison." (John 3:24)

                                                                                                                                   (Homily XVII)

     One, little-mentioned group are the Mandaeans.  (An Aramaic word meaning "knowledge").  Could this people, though not even Jewish, have played a crucial role in the development of the nascent Nazarene movement?  It would seem that they did.  Daily baptizers, they lived along the Jordan River.  Living in stark simplicity, daily the turbaned, white-robed, Mandaean holy men awaited the rising sun and when it burst forth they descended into the water.  Who were they? Buddhists? Zoroastrians? Ganges river bathers? some mixture of these? or were they something else altogether?  At this late date it's hard to say.  Anthropologists think they originated in Persia.  As did the Jews of Jesus' day, they spoke the lingua franca of the Middle East, that being  Aramaic.  To this day, they seek to live at peace with their Islamic neighbors in southern Iraq on the Euphrates river as simple farmers while practicing their millennial-old rites.  In their ancient Scriptures, the Ginza Rba, in the Book of Souls, are found surprising parallels with John's Gospel, particularly in distinguishing light from darkness; also, references to living water, the true vine, and like themes.

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     The cultural attainments of Israel's mighty neighbors, Egypt, Persia, and Greece in turn tempted and repelled.  It was always a nice question which influence were to be accepted and which rejected.  Let us observe, biblical Judaism did not simply fall from the sky as some might suppose, for there is overwhelming evidence of judicious borrowings for, from its inception.  Israel has drawn inspiration from a multiplicity of sources: Moses, for instance, came of age in the courts of the Pharaoh where he became conversant with the learning and wisdom of Egypt.  Later on, fleeing to the wilderness, he was refreshed by the Midianites, particularly Jethro, the Midianite priest, who became his father-in-law.  Exposure to primitive, tribal religion infused Judaism with a kind of hybrid vigor.  Later Greek ideas and modes of expression also left an imprint on the biblical record, especially on the New Testament but elsewhere as well. Many scholars think, for instance, that the complete absence of Jewish features in Job may be because its origin was not Jewish at all but Greek.  None of this detracts from its value.  Nor does it negate direct revelation.  The Holy Land is where East meets West, where Oriental mysticism and Occidental logic combine.  Only blind parochialism could keep one from seeing the reality that the Israelite commonwealth was anything but a cultural backwater.  As C. S. Lewis wrote:

To a human mind this working-up (in a sense imperfectly), this sublimation (incomplete)

of human material, seems, no doubt, an untidy and leaky vehicle.  We might have

expected, we may think we should have preferred, an unrefracted light giving us ultimate

truth in systematic form - something we could have tabulated and memorized and relied

on like the multiplication table.  One can respect, and at moments envy, both the

Fundamentalist's view of the Bible and the Roman Catholic's view of the Church.  But

there is one argument which we should beware of using position: God must have done

what is best, this is best, therefore God has done this.  For we are mortals and do not

know what is best for us, and it is dangerous to prescribe what God must have done -

especially when we cannot, for the life of us, see that He has after all done it.

                                                                                                            (Reflections on the Psalms)

     The Mandaean's holy men are not to be written off lightly as heathen idolaters for their sense of the sacred had been awakened in the solitude of the wilderness.  In the freshness of the new dawn, they offered their living souls to the Light.  Stark, natural beauty seems to have been incorporated into their vision quest, allowing them to achieve a remarkable degree of clarity.  Camped out under star-studded skies such as  desert nights alone afford, their days spent under the blazing desert sun, they lived with a heightened sense of dichotomy which is reflected in their gratitude for cool, life-giving waters, warming fire, and aerial breezes.  The cyclical succession of seasons, the evidence of times passage on sun-whitened bones, clouds, moon, sky, rain, soil, creeping, crawling things that go snap in the night, all became an invitation to them to move on up into an etherial abode of expanded consciousness beyond the reach of earthly language.  As participants in the cosmic dance, the Creator became known to them through the experience of his Creation.       
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     Apparently the Mandaeans and John the Baptist hit it off quite well for there is a highly favorable recollection of John in the Mandaean's scriptures.  One can hardly imagine that this went down too well with Pharisaical traditionalists who thought ill of outsiders associating with Jews or Jews associating with outsiders.  As MS 2498 put it:

Then came the religious folk called Pharisees, for to be baptized by him.  And Saint John told

them that they should seek repentance, and that they should not put their trust in their

kinship connection with those who sometime past were well pleasing to God: for God might

make good men of those also who have no such hope before them.  And God would not

delay having each man done by him according as he deserved.  And then asked these folk

what they should do, and how might they be saved.  And John answered them that they

should give alms to the poor for the love of God.                                              (MS 2498, ch. 7)      

     Who then were the Mandaeans? wise men from the East.  Does this not ring a bell? Who were "the three kings" (MS 2498)?  They were wise men from the East, and among the first to herald the Messiah.

Bait and switch.

The Hadrionic war, which had wrung the death knell of Jewish hopes of political

independence had also relegated the church of the apostles to the rank of a heretical

sect.                                                  (Hugh Schofield, History of Jewish Christianity)

     Behind the rewriting of Nazarene Scripture, lies a tragic story: the Roman emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD) outlawed observance of the Mosaic Law throughout the RomanEmpire.  Jews in the Holy Land rebelled, and justly so.  The Nazarenes, themselves Law-observant, might well have joined them except for one consideration, the leader of the rebellion, Bar Kocheba, had been declared to be the Messiah. 

Believers could not in good conscience accede to either party's demands.  As if caught in the pincers of a giant nutcracker, Jerusalem's apostolic community was destroyed in a mighty bloodbath in 135 AD when Jerusalem fell to Rome's legions.  It was then that certain Gentile Christians found it expedient to distance their  religion from its Jewish roots.  Such was the sequence of events preceding a 2nd Century Church edit when four Nazarene proto-gospels were rewritten to accommodate not only Roman political realities but also to suit the proclivities of the Church's dominant hierarchy men.  Thus did Rome not only conquer God's people militarily but again religiously through the Church by subverting the sacred text.

     This 2nd Century edit spelled the final parting of the ways, when the Church became a religion unto itself, separate and apart from that of the apostolic community for after the New Testament was sent forth by the Church, all the

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gospels not included in it became, as it were, incriminating evidence in need of suppressing.  It was then, in 180 AD, when he was in Rome just before being elevated to the bishopric of Lyons that Irenaeus (d. 200 AD), formulated the myth of four and only four gospels.  Arguing the necessity for this fourfold arrangement, Irenaeus stated:

The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are.  Since

there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principle winds, while the

Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the

gospel, and ... it fittingly has four pillars.                                      (Adversus Haereses)

     Once buttressed by such weighty arguments as these, wholesale destruction could begin in earnest with one bishop, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, even bragging how he had withdrawn two hundred Diatessaronic manuscripts from churches in Syria.

     Almost axiomatically, as if it were a tenet of their faith, Protestants believe that  through the Church God saw to it that the apostolic word would be preserved for  future generations.  (The word has been preserved indeed, just not through the agency they suppose, nor in the form they suppose either.)  The assumption is that it wasn't until Constantine's time in the 4th Century that the Church was seduced by the allure of state power.  True, by then the New Testament had been disseminated so widely as to be beyond recall for major revision.  (Embroidering around the edges has always been going on.)  And it's true enough that 3rd Century papyri and 4th Century uncials confirm that 4th Century tampering, if not completely absent, was not a significant factor overall.  But to extrapolate from this that in pre-Constantine times the Church had been a trustworthy custodian of the apostolic writings, as we shall see, is an unwarranted leap of faith.  In other words, what is called into question is the institutional Church's role as historic guardian of the apostolic deposition.  Did the Church maintain the chain of possession from apostolic times to our own?  Can we vouch for fidelity of transmission or confidently claim, as once we did, that Matthew actually wrote Matthew; or Mark, Mark, etc.?  The issue is foundational: is the house of faith built on the Rock of apostolic teaching or is it built on something less stable?

     MS 2498 portrays Jesus as closer emotionally to his family, to his disciples, and to  the common folk than do the canonicals.  Also he welcomed women on an equal basis with men.  "Orve suete lord Jhesu cris," as reads MS 2498.  Sweet Jesus!  Not as a remote figure was he perceived by those who knew him best but as one near and dear.

     In subtle but significant ways, the Pepysian text tells a different story than do the canonicals: for instance, in canonical Luke chapter 7, Jesus forgave the Magdalene"for she loved much."  But in MS 2498 it is Jesus who loved much, thus illustrating the same point Luke chapter 15 makes, that the lost coin, the lost sheep and, ultimately, the lost person has a special claim to our attention.  It's not as if the lost coin, sheep, or person were intrinsically more valuable than others, just lost

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and in need of finding.  Likewise with the Magdalene, so likewise with ourselves, love does not originate with us but we respond to love.  So who pray tell, is the penitent of Luke chapter 7?  MS 2498 identifies her as the Magdalene.  Not as "canonical" Luke has it, was Jesus' parable about an anonymous penitent's love for Jesus but, as MS 2498 has it, it was about a creditor who, having forgiven much, loves much.  Why the reversal?  Was it not because, while giving lip-service to Jesus' humanity, the Church was uncomfortable with its reality, thus the attempt to obscure Jesus' true feelings for the Magdalene?  Albeit Jesus was the son of God, he was every inch a man, a man whose love for the Magdalene ran deep.  Twice Mary anointed Jesus, once out of gratitude for salvation, then later for burial.  But his spiritual anointing of her was for all eternity.

MS 2498 has to say about the Magdalene's "sinfulness" is that she was "taken in that city for being a sinful woman."  It does not say what that might have entailed.  So why jump to unwarranted conclusions?  That she was sinful, we can be sure, she and all the rest of humanity.  No, what the Pharisee was driving at was that since she was afflicted she must be sinful.  Such was the Pharisaical mind-set, a corollary to which is that health and worldly success are signs of God's approval.  How like Job's three "friends" he was!

A family account.

       A peculiar fact needing to be accounted for is the total lack of references to the Fourth Gospel by Church Fathers before 180 AD.  Some scholars say that this is evidence that it didn't exist until then.  Maybe so, but left unexplained is how such a composition, so poignant, so unique and filled with telling detail that only one who lived in the Holy Land before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD could have known, came to be.  The first use of John's Gospel that we know of was by the Gnostic, Heracleon (d. 180 AD) and from Nag Hammadi comes an abundance of evidence demonstrating familiarity with Johannine ideas.  "Orthodox" Christians were unaccountably slow to accept John and for a long time they seemed uncertain as to its origins, and so much so that Irenaeus in defending its apostolic origins, had to resort to the claim that as a child in Asia Minor he remembered hearing about it.  What a weak reed to rest his case on, his childhood recollection!  In fact, evidence this flimsy throws the whole issue of authorship into doubt.  Writes Ramon K. Jusino:

Raymond Brown has likened the quest to identify the author of the Fourth Gospel to

a good detective story.  (1966 lxxxvii).  A good detective sifts through evidence which

is relevant and discards that which is not.  When the evidence begins to point in a

certain direction, he or she pursues leads and explores all of the various explanations

and alibies.  When one theory emerges as plausible and more credible than any other,

the detective draws a conclusion that usually involves the naming of a suspect or

suspects.  ... I respectfully submit that the "prime suspect" [based on evidence cited

herein] [as to] the author of the Fourth Gospel should be Mary Magdalene.   
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     Decidedly more intimate is John's Gospel than are the three synoptics.  The reason for this has long been debated but the answer lies on the surface, the synoptics are official, public accountings of Jesus' ministry: his parables, his healings, his fulfillment of prophecy whereas John's is a private memoir.  Being of a more personal nature, John's Gospel features one-on-one meetings such as with Nicodemus or with the Samaritan woman by the well.  Its detailed recollection of Jesus' passion is more personal and poignant.

     But why do we speak of John's Gospel, now that proto-John is available to us in MS 2498?  For that matter, why do we call it "proto-John"?  Only because John was derived therefrom.  As found in MS 2498, proto-John is anonymous.  Written from a Judean instead of a Galilean perspective, plausibly it is the family witness of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary as recorded by the apostle John.  Or perhaps it is the Magdalene's personal witness.  Whose voice is to be heard?  On grammatical grounds alone, we can say that it's not the voice of the John who wrote the Apocalypse.  He was noted for his incorrect Greek whereas this is beautifully correct.  Nor is it the voice of the author of the Epistles of John which contain vague resemblances to John's prologue but that prologue is not part of proto-John.  Had Lazarus been its author, he would have been credited, just as Luke and Mark were credited, even though they were not apostles.  Speaking of Luke, his Greek is beautiful, but he has one gospel to his credit already and no one is suggesting a second.

     Though this is a subjective judgment, once some of the later, churchly overlayment is stripped away from John, in its delicacy and sensibility, one can begin to hear the voice of a woman, perhaps even that of the cultured Magdalene who, as one who hailed from a wealthy, distinguished family, would have had the resources to produce a written memoir as well as a translation for Gentiles.  But most important of all, she was an eyewitness.  It is only her Memoir which allows us to identify the proximate cause of Jesus' crucifixion.  John 10:40 records what no other gospel records, that Jesus took refuge across the Jordan River where John the Forerunner first baptized.  It further records, to his disciples' chagrin, his leaving that haven to return to Bethany, only a mile from Jerusalem, where his sworn enemies were plotting his demise.  This Jesus did that he might raise the Magdalene's brother, Lazarus, from death to life.  It was this act that led Caiaphas, the high priest, in a fit of jealous rage to prophesy that one man should die for the nation.

     Perhaps out of gratitude for restoring her brother Lazarus to life, six days before the Passover, the Magdalene anointed Jesus with oil worth 300 denarii, no small fortune.  In doing this, however, unintentionally she raised the stakes even higher because this so angered Judas Iscariot that it led him to betray Jesus' location to the authorities in return for 30 denarii - an amount equal to a tithe of the 300 denarii that the Magdalene had expended.  Only John' Gospel, (the Magdalene's Gospel, if you will) informs us regarding Judas Iscariot's true motivation, that he was a thief who had been filching from the money-bag.  While 
in a larger sense,
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Jesus came to die for the sins of the world, the record is clear: he placed his life on the line for the Magdalene and for her family.

     Most relevant for the current study is to note the nearly-complete absence of the expression "the disciple whom Jesus loved" from the Magdalene sections of MS 2498. In its stead is the name "John."  Is it possible that John, the son of Zebedee, was not the beloved disciple?  Neither at the Last Supper (John chapter 12), nor in the courtyard of  the high priest (John, chapter 18), nor at the empty tomb (John ch. 20), nor with the risen Christ on the seashore (John chapter 21) is he so described in MS 2498.  Only at the Cross John chapter 19, where exists a real possibility of confusion in transmission or translation, is he so identified.  The question is, why would anyone add this title, if it weren't there originally?  It's not as if John were unworthy of it.  After all, he was at Jesus' right hand at the Last Supper and, in the community of believers, is often named with Peter and James in a leadership position.  Certainly he is worthy of the honor.  The point is that it was a later addition.  But what motivated such an addition?  If less than conclusive, there is persuasive evidence indicating that it was the Magdalene's title, which the Church assigned to him to keep from her.  It is true to fact to say that at some point the Magdalene, and women like her who played an active role in ministry, became an embarrassment to an organization which defined leadership - and not just the administrative variety, but real spiritual leadership - as being exclusively male.  Not just a male prerogative but a male characteristic. This attitude is the basis for cover-up.  Literally.  For instance, in the apocryphal Acts of Philip (which is of a Gnostic character), Jesus advises Mary:

As for you Mary, change your clothing and outward appearance: reject everything which

from the outside suggests a woman.

     Given the prejudices of her times, it has been suggested that for Mary to have acted  in any capacity outside the usual domestic one, she needed a male "covering."  To that end, some have claimed she turned to the apostle John to be her "head covering," her veil of anonymity.  Did the Magdalene internalize this attitude, accepting second-class citizenship as proper and as the norm, or did she merely accede to it as a necessary evil?  Then again, maybe neither one nor the other but it was imposed after the fact by the Church.  (At least, those are the reasonable alternatives that I am aware of.)  There's one more angle to consider: if Mary was indeed "family," then after Jesus' crucifixion, there is the biblical injunction "that if a man's brother dies and leaves behind a wife and leaves no child,  his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother."  (See Luke 20:28.)  In the instance at hand, James, a surviving brother, did indeed raise up children to Jesus - spiritual children.  While it is an open question whether he did so through Mary, there is reason to believe as we have before seen that they were collaborators.    

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     The idea of the Magdalene as being the author who stands behind John's gospel is recent, the first person to publicly posit this being Jusino who, in 1998, in an article posted to the internet and titled "Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel?" takes as his starting point the scholarship of Raymond F. Brown who is generally recognized as America's foremost Catholic biblical scholar.  As have other scholars, Brown's thinking on the question of authorship has evolved.  Backing off from his initial assessment in 1966 that the author of canonical John was the apostle John, in 1979 he adopted, instead, the stance that there was little evidence of Johannine authorship.  Positing a three stage development, he saw the first as being the contribution of an anonymous Beloved Disciple who was personally known to Jesus, as well as an eyewitness to the events recounted; the second stage he attributed to an unidentified evangelist; and the third stage to a redactor.   Of this final stage Jusino wrote:

... an important assertion of mine is that the redactor carefully concealed the identity of

Mary Magdalene as the Beloved Disciple, by referring to her only as an anonymous disciple.

As the redactor reworked the seven passages cited above [John 1:35-40; 13:23-26; 18:15-16;

19:25-27; 20:1-11; 21:7; 21:21-24] which refer to the Beloved Disciple, he simply changed

any reference to Mary Magdalene by substituting it with an anonymous reference to the

Beloved Disciple or to "another disciple."  For most of the document this was fairly easy to

do and the resulting text appeared to be congruous.  Instead of seeing the Magdalene's

name, the reader is simply presented with an anonymous male disciple.

Removing references to Mary Magdalene from most of the story was easy.  However, in the

course of his work, the redactor was confronted with a problem. The tradition placing Mary

Magdalene at the foot of the Cross and at the Empty Tomb Sunday morning was too strong to

deny.  The Magdalene's presence at both these events was common knowledge among most

early Christian communities.  (This is evidenced by the fact that all three of the other New

Testament Gospels report her presence at these events.)  The redactor could not simply omit

any reference to the Magdalene at the Crucifixion or any reference to her as a primary

witness to the Resurrection.  However, the redactor still wanted to establish the Beloved

Disciple as the founder of his community and as an eyewitness to these major events in the

work of salvation.  The way he could still maintain that the founder of his community was an

eyewitness to the events in the Gospel even though he inexplicably fails to reveal his identity

(John 21:24).

At this point the redactor probably asked himself a question very similar to this one: How

can I suppress the knowledge of Mary Magdalene having been the founder of our community

without being so obvious as to remove her from the Crucifixion/Resurrection accounts,

with which most Christians are already familiar?

The redactor's solution to this problem was quite simple.  In those two events where he

could not deny the presence of the Beloved Disciple, he would rework the text so as to

make it appear as if Mary Magdalene and the Beloved Disciple were two different people

appearing simultaneously in the same place, at the same time.  Consequently, Mary

Magdalene and the male Beloved Disciple appear together in the Fourth Gospel in only
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two passages - 19:25-27 (at the foot of the Cross) and 20: 1-11 (at the Empty Tomb on

Sunday morning).

Isn't that interesting?  And it is precisely at these two points that we find some major

structural inconsistencies within the text of the Fourth Gospel.  Brown discusses the

inconsistencies in both of these passages.  (That shows that I'm not just reading

inconsistencies into passages that have none.)  Notably, Brown finds no such structural

defects in any of the other passages which contain references to the Beloved Disciple.

     Let us consider one of Brown's "structural inconsistences."  John 19:25 begins with three Marys listed as standing by the Cross but not the apostle John.  Thus Jesus turned and addressed his mother, about "the disciple whom he loved standing nearby." One might on first blush assume he meant the Magdalene, that is until reading further along to learn that John was also there.  Why was he not listed in the first place?  If Jusino is right in his supposition that the Magdalene was originally the one being addressed, not John, then there are important implications.  For one, if the Magdalene was "family," then what Jesus said to his mother was, in essence, this: here is your daughter-in-law and to the Magdalene: here is your mother-in-law.  Preparing Jesus' body for burial was a family responsibility and so, for that matter, was caring for Jesus' mother.   Also, as the Magdalene was a woman of means, it is more plausible that Jesus would advise his mother to move into the Magdalene's home which was just a mile or so away, rather than into John's home, which, if he had one, would probably have been back in Galilee.  As the text reads: "From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."  Or was it originally "her home"? Since we know that mother Mary was present at Pentecost in Jerusalem 50 days later, it is likely that she had been staying all the while near at hand to Jerusalem with the Magdalene rather than spending days trudging back and forth to Galilee.

        In the Fourth Gospel, there's a curious juxtaposing of the apostles John and Peter and when this occurs, of the two, John always comes off on top.  When they have a foot race to the Empty Tomb, John wins.  When they both see the grave clothes, John understands the implications first and believes.  When they both espy Jesus from afar in the fishing boat, John is the first to recognize who it is.  Earlier, when they both go to the high priest's home, John is the one who gains them entrance.  At the Last Supper, John is closest to Jesus and Peter has to go through John to get a question to Jesus answered.  What if the Magdalene is substituted for John?  In that case, rather than there being two competing personalities, which in itself is a matter of no real significance, there are two opposing policies: Peter's upholding male dominance; and the Magdalene's upholding Jesus' empowerment of women.  In light of all else we know about the Church, it's quite plausible that the Church Fathers were well aware of this gospel but, because they knew it had been written by or authorized by a woman, they assiduously avoided it until mid- 2nd Century when they rewrote it, attributing, 
thereafter, their newly-minted
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creation to the apostle John.  If this supposition is correct, it would go along way toward explaining what the great coverup with respect to the Magdalene was all about - a woman so forward as to write Scripture. 

     Purloining the Magdalene's literary heritage in itself would have made the Church authorities a bit nervous, that is if they were caught in the act.  But they might emboldened to go adead when they pondered this question: how would they or civil authorities ever justify keeping women in subjection, o
r for that matter, husbands their wives, if Mary Magdalene's example was available to show them that they needn't be?  Why the precedent of it!  Were such notions of female competency to become common knowledge, could spark a revolution!    

     Yes, the Magdalene was the beloved disciple, not that the apostle John or the other apostles were unbeloved.  It's simply that this was her title.  From this, however, the Church has always recoiled in horror as if scandalized, for while giving lip service to Jesus' humanity, the idea of Jesus' having formed a special relationship with Mary, even if entirely on a spiritual plane, was wholly unacceptable. 

     On the one hand, there is a very real reluctance on the part of the canonical gospels to tell the Magdalene's story, as if something about her were in need of being kept under wraps but, until recently, any claim of coverup could be passed off as idle speculation.  No more.  Thanks to MS Pepys 2498, as well as new insights into John's Gospel, we are now able to critique the canonicals from the selfsame texts from which they were derived.  What comparison shows is an attempt to minimize her contribution and deflect attention from her.  Thanks to MS 2498, we can say that there were not three Marys but one.  In that respect, Pope Gregory was correct.  MS 2498's contribution is a comprehensible story of her conversion and of her acts, thereafter, as a disciple.

Comparing textual traditions.

     Following are juxtaposed accounts of the-turning-water-into-wine incident: MS Pepys 2498, that makes no mention of a wedding, just a celebration, nor any specific identification as to place beyond that of Galilee and only three gallons of wine were created, not "twenty or thirty gallons" as we find in the canonical account.  The canonical account is the familiar, King James Version.  Also,
two Diatessaronic versions are included.  The Diatessarons appear to have been  dependent on MS Pepys 2498's progenitor to sequence events.  Also, some use was made of its text.  Again let it be noted, that were MS Pepys 2498 merely the "medieval harmony" Cambridge University's literature department long ago billed
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it as being, then there would not be the close, verbal conjunctions one finds between it and diverse, Diatessaronic documents originating at different times, at distant points on the globe, in this instance from Persia and from the Netherlands.  Unless we are willing to dismiss such similarities as "coincidences," then honestly compels us to face forthrightly that MS Pepys 2498's text is indeed of ancient provenance.

     A word about scribes, theirs is not a discipline where unbridled imagination is welcomed.  A good scribe is faithful in his handling of the text.  And that's what we see here, scribes who did not promiscuously invent things but who dutifully sought to reconcile differing accounts.  Getting down to specifics, Yuri Kuckhinsky wrote:

... the biggest interpretative problem in the canonical text is what can be described as the

"Mystery of the Architriklinos" -- which RSV translates as "steward of the feast".  Who

is this
"steward", what exactly is his social status, and why is he ordering about even the

bridegroom, of all people? ... in MG [MS Pepys 2498] is that it's the "chief of the feast"

who is
in charge of this whole affair, and not merely a "steward/headwaiter", like in the

canonical Jn.
 The importance of this detail is that, as a result, in MG, the story appears

to be a lot more
coherent and logical.  Indeed, logically, how can it be that the "headwaiter"

can chide the
groom for keeping the best wine for the last? Shouldn't this be the other

way around, since it
is the headwaiter, himself, who should have normally been in charge

of the wine?  And so, in
the Magdalene text [MS Pepys 2498] it is indeed the "chief of

the feast" who chides the butler/
headwaiter for keeping the best wine until later.  (Of

course, since in MG
[MS Pepys 2498] the feast is not a wedding, there is no "groom"

involved in this story at all.)  And, very importantly, this higher
social status for this

gentleman is also supported by both the Dutch and the Persian texts.
... in MG [MS

Pepys 2498
, the servants take the jugs together with the wine to be tasted by the "chief

of the
feast", while, in the canonical Jn, only some wine is taken to be tasted. 

And the same thing
as in MG [MS Pepys 2498] also seems to be happening in the

Persian DT [Diatessaron].  This indicates that the smaller size
of the jugs is an integral

part of the narrative both in MG
[MS Pepys 2498] and in the Persian version, so this

was not merely some sort of a manuscript mistake.

MS 2498: On the third day came Jesus into Galilee, & was led unto a feast with his disciples
where his mother was.  

KJV: And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was
there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

Leige DT: One day there was a wedding feast in a city which was called Chana, in the land of
Galilee, and there was Mary, Jesus' mother.  Jesus and his disciples were also called there to
the feast.

Persian DT: On the third day there was a wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of
Jesus was there. And Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding feast.


MS 2498: And it so befell that the wine had failed.  And his mother said to him that they had
no wine.  And Jesus said that the hour had not yet come when he should show his power.

KJV: And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.  Jesus
saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

Leige DT: It happened at this wedding that there lacked wine. Then Jesus' mother spoke to him
and said, "They lack wine". And Jesus answered her, "Woman, what have I in common with thee?
Mine hour is not yet come". .]

Persian DT: The wine was running out. The mother of Jesus said, "They have no wine." He said,
"Why do you say this, Mother? The time has not yet come."


MS 2498: & then said his mother to the servants that they do all that he told them to do.  Now there
were six jars that the good man & from which all the men did wash, each of them measuring three

KJV: His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.  And there were set
there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews containing two or three
firkins apiece.

Leige DT: Then his mother spoke to those that were serving there and said, "Whatever he says to
you, do that." There stood six stone jars, which had been set there after the manner of the Jews,
who used to do their purification in such vessels.  Those held as much as two or three measures.

Persian DT: The mother said to the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it." And there were six
stone jars there, that they had placed there for the ablutions of the Jews, each holding two or three
measures.  And the people were seated in the banquet room.


MS 2498: And Jesus told them take them up and bring them forth to him.  And as soon as the
good man had drunk thereof, he called the butler to him and said:

KJV: Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water.  And they filled them up to the brim.
And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.  And they bare it. 
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine and knew not whence it was:
(but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
and saith unto him,

Leige DT: Then Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water".  And they did so, and filled
them to the brim. "Now scoop and carry it to the master of the house", and they did so. And when
the master of the house tasted of the wine that had been made of water, and knew not how it had
happened, (but the servants knew it well, who had filled the jars with water), the master of the
house asked for the bridegroom and said to him thus,

Persian DT: Jesus said to them, "Fill these jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
"And give [this] to the head of the assembly." They carried and gave [this] to the head of the
assembly. He tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though
the mixers who had filled the [jugs with] water knew). The head of the assembly called the
bridegroom, and says to him,


MS 2498: "Every wise man first setteth forth the best wine, & when the men be drunken from
that, then they set forth that which is less worthy.  & thou hast kept back the best wine until
now."  This was the first miracle which Jesus had performed.  & for that his disciples believed
in him.

KJV: Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk,
then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of
miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples
believed on him.           

Leige DT: "Every man is wont to give first the best wine, and after that, when they have
drunk of this, he gives wine of his whichis weaker. But thou has kept thy  best wine until
now". This was one of the first miracles that Jesus did in Chana of Galilee, and there he
revealed his divine power.  And therewith his disciples were strengthened in the faith.

Persian DT: Every man brings out the good wine first; when men have drunk freely, then
he brings out inferior wine. You have kept the good wine until now." This was the first
miracle, that Jesus did in Cana in Galilee, and [he] manifested the power of God; and his
disciples believed in him.

Jesus, the Wisdom of God.

... a small collection of Old Testament extracts was gathered together in such a manner

as to be the biography of the Lord in prophecies.  (Rendell Harris, Testimonies, vol. II)

In the interval between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus conducted, as it were, a six-week, non-vocational Bible course at which time he opened the eyes of his disciples to the prophecies found inthe Law, the Prophets and the Psalms concerning those things in Scripture pertaining to himself.  Recorded by Matthew, these were included only partially in the gospel attributed to him. These, the  Oracles of the Lord, the Testimonia, although foundational to Nazarene witness, especialy vis a vis the Jewish nation, appeared to be irretrievably lost until substantially recovered by J. Rendel Harris in two volumes in 1916 and 1922

     Between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus opened the eyes of his disciples to the prophecies concerning himself as are found in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms.  These Matthew recorded, and this collection of Testimonia, otherwise known as the Oracles of the Lord, became the basis for the Nazarene's teaching ministry.    

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     Curiously enough, unbeknownst to itself, the Anglican Church has preserved parts  of Matthew's Testimonia in its Advent services.  Called the "great O's for short," i.e., the great "O Antiphons" of Advent, they are intoned with solemnity every year before and after the reading of Mary's Magnificat:

O Sapientia / O Wisdom.

O Adonai / O Lord.

O Radix Jesse / O Root of Jesse.

O Caudius David / O Key of David.

O Oriens splendor / O Radiant dawn.

O Rex gentium / O King of the nations.

O Emmanuel rex et legifer noster / O God-with-us, Our King and Lawgiver.

     By appropriating prophecies found in such books as the Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach, the Nazarenes, beginning with Jesus, demonstrated that these books were held in the same high regard as were the other Hebrew Scriptures.  That is to say, the Nazarene Bible looked more like today's Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox versions than it did either the Pharisaic or Protestant versions.  Of this Rendel Harris wrote:

It is interesting to observe further the scriptural language in which the Divine Wisdom is

described; she comes forth from the Mouth of the Most High; this is Sirach, c. xxiv. 3, and is

one of the proof-tests in Cyprian's Testimonies; that is followed by a statement that Wisdom

extends from marge to marge radiantly, and that she administers graciously; this is from the

Wisdom of Solomon viii. 1.  The prayer is made that Wisdom will come and teach us the

way or prudence.  It appears that in the great O's Christ is defined as Wisdom in the terms of

the Sapiential books, much in the same way as we found in our study of Testimonies.  The

impression produced is that these Advent antiphons are of great antiquity.  This impression is

confirmed when we look at the other members of the group, which follow the appeal to

Wisdom.  They are pro-ethnic in a remarkable degree.  Christ is the root of Jesse, who stands

for an ensign of the peoples, the one to whom the Gentiles appeal.  He is the King of the

Gentiles, the Desire of the Gentiles, the Expectation of the Gentiles and their Savior.  The

term "King of the Gentiles" is interesting; it is the correct reading in Apoc. xv. 4. ... Then we

notice also that Christ is appealed to as the Stone, the Cornerstone, and we have shown

abundantly how characteristic such a term is of the early years of Christianity.

On the whole we conclude that the "O Sapientia" of the Calendar in the English Prayer-

book is
a bit of early ritual, broken away from its primitive setting, and with its meaning

so obscured
by the rust and dust of time that there is probably not an Anglican living

who knows the
interpretation of the vocative vocable in his Church Calendar.  Even

if he knew the story of
the Great O's, he would not be able to tell why the Church said

"O" in the first instance, nor
why she said "O" to wisdom.
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        Jesus, as the Stone whom the builders rejected, became the Cornerstone, a sure foundation for those who believe but a stumblingstone for the rest.  Long- debated by scholars is whether Paul (Romans 9) and Peter (I Peter 2) in applying such "Stone" terminology were quoting one another or whether they were both quoting the Synoptic gospels.  But, as Rendel Harris demonstrates, neither of the above was the case; rather, antecedent to them all, was Matthew's Testimonia.  Before there was a gospel account or apostolic epistles, Matthew's function was to bring together relevant Scripture in such a way as to demonstrate how Jesus' life satisfied the requirements of prophecy. 

The apostolic heritage.

     The Church's 2nd Century reworking of the gospels from a self-interested bias, besides leaving a dubious legacy for those so engaged, has impoverished the world, now robbed of a clear accounting of the Nazarene movement.  However, after more than two centuries of concerted scholarly effort which has been undergirded by the most remarkable, one might even say, miraculous archeological finds, this Gentile tampering (dare we call it desecration?), otherwise known as "the great Gentile hijack," largely has been reversed.  True, much that is precious has perished, yet much also remains.  This work of recovery has attracted talented scholars, with the following progress to report:
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Recovered: MS Pepys 2498.  Arguably the crown jewel of the Nazarene movement,

this, the narrative gospel of Jesus' life and ministry, survived for centuries in a single

late 14th / early 15th Century manuscript.  Once belonging to the famous 18th

Century diarist Samuel Pepys, it now resides in Cambridge University's Magdalene

library.  Who needs an additional gospel? scholars for sure but believers most of all

for, by making demonstrable the tampering that has occurred, MS 2498 confronts

us with aclear choice: embrace what is apostolic or cling to what is churchly.

Reconstructed, Testimonia, being the testimony of Holy Writ originally gathered by

the apostle Matthew.  Likely circulated before the other apostolic writings, it served

the immediate need to defend the messianic claim.  It, not the gospel that goes by

his name, was Matthew's true contribution. Its reconstruction was a scholarly tour

de force by J. Rendel Harris and appeared in two volumes published in 1916 and in


Recovered: by J. Rendel Harris, an ancient Nazarene hymnbook, The Odes and

Psalms of Solomon,  in Syriac.  Translated into English, it was published in 1909.

Restored: by R.H. Charles, a corrected text of John's Apocalypse.  20 plus years in

the making, it was published in 1920, in two volumes.

Recovered: Evangelion da-Mepharreshe.  Based on the Curetonian Syriac

fragments from the Nitrian desert discovered in 1842 and a near-complete

palimpsest found at Mt. Sinai in 1892, it provides the canonical gospels in the

"Western" text.  Beautifully translated from the Syriac by F. Crawford Burkitt,

it was published in 1904.

Recovered: from the sands of Egypt in 1945, the Gospel of Thomas.  After 1500

years, the text survives nearly complete.  It was first published in English in 1959.

Recovered: the deeds of James, the Lord's brother.  Airbrushed out of canonical

Acts, James' deeds were recorded by Hegesippus and preserved in Eusebius'


Recovered: Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis.  A Latin/Greek diglot, uncial on vellum,

this manuscript for many centuries reposed at the monastic library of St Irenaeus

at Lyon.  So highly esteemed is this manuscript for its "Western" texts that in

1995 a scholarly colloquium was held at Lunel, Herault entirely devoted to its


     Add to the above David Flusser's study of the Two Ways and Brad Young's work with Jesus' parables and we are in a position to lay claim to a substantial body of apostolic material.  Whatever their drawbacks, the canonical gospels, long our only substantive source of information about Jesus, continue to be of enduring, indeed, of increasing value but now that we have in hand a prior gospel, we can critique the edit to which the canonicals were subjected.
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PART III: Placing the Nazarene movement in its biblical setting.

All Abraham's children.

Now YHVH had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and

from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: ...                            (Genesis 12:1)

     At issue was not so much Abram's home environment, whether it was pernicious ornot; rather, the pervasiveness of a fallen culture whose influences, cocoon-like, could envelop and strangle.  Complying only imperfectly with the divine decree, Abram brought with him his kinsman Lot who proved to be no end of trouble.  Nonetheless,he was sent and he went.  Separating from kith and kin was just the beginning of his trials; it was not onward-and-upward thereafter for immediately upon getting to the Promised Land, instead of staying put, he and his entourage headed off for Egypt where Abram became embroiled in a tawdry controversy involving his wife Sarai and Pharaoh.

     At work on Abram were angels better and worse; also forces centripetal and centrifugal, the former of a conforming nature, conserving of lore but stifling of innovation, while the latter spun him off into the wilderness where, exercised by suffering, he  grew in character.  A survivalist, Abraham bloomed where he was planted precariously on civilization's margins.  There, on being renamed "Abraham," his personal redemption become the basis for a corporate work of redemption, a pilgrim community jealous of its divinely ordained autonomy.  May those only, therefore, whose eyes are set on the distant kingdom, who are estranged from the present, corrupt world system, say "Father Abraham."

... and he [Abraham] was called the Friend of God.   (James 2:23)

     Other than Abraham, in all the world one cannot find a figure more widely revered, remarkable considering his having flourished almost 4000 years ago.  Credit Genesis' laconic account (chapters 11-26).  There by definition "Abraham" means "father of many nations" (Genesis 17:5), from which one might infer that Islam's, Judaism's, and/or Christendom's 2.5 billion adherents were intended, inasmuch as each of these entities credit their corporate existence to God's covenant with him, but before any religious denomination had arisen, Abraham was already father of the faithful.

Faithful is as faithful does.

     It is not the many who are called, rather, the faithful few whom God has chosen who constitute his society of friends.  Not just Abram, weall need the integrity of our individual identities, i.e., our self-ownership under God, hard-won though this may be.  Abram had his challenges as do we ours, out of which, for better or for worse, we forge a relationship with God.  As with Abram, so likewise with ourselves, the world system is too much with us as larger and larger political, 
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economic, and religious units, call them power pyramids or empires if you will, are formed which exist mainly for the benefit of those controlling them.  Opposing this are individuals, communities, nations, religions, seeking to maintain their autonomy.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the

altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

                                                                                                                                        (James 2:21-22)
      Though half dead from old age, and though there seemed to be no way, yet Abraham, hoping against hope, believed that God would make a way for him to have a son,which hope God fulfilled.  What Abraham wanted is what most people want: a place on the good earth for themselves and their progeny.  More than life itself, Abraham loved Isaac whom God had gifted to him in his old age but somewhere along the way he had learned a deep lesson: that of putting the giver above the gift.  Thus he subordinated his personal desires to a higher consideration which stood him in good stead came the day of testing and:

          ... it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3)

     In response to Abraham's faithfulness, the angel of God said to him:

By myself have I sworn, saith YHVH, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not

withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will

multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand that is upon the sea shore;

and thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations

of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.                  (Genesis 22:16-18)

     It's not as if there weren't outstanding men of God before Abraham, for certainly there were, men such as Enoch or Noah for example, but it was with Abraham that a corporate work was begun, which work was passed on from generation to generation.  But whom does it encompass?  That is to say, who's in, who's out?  One hint: indicative of the nonsectarian nature of the divine call and contrary to anyone's exclusivist claims, Jesus said:

And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with

Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.  But the children of the kingdom

shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

                                                                                                                                  (Matthew 8:11-12)
     Joining Abraham at the heavenly banquet table: Socrates? Confucius? Buddha? Lau Tzu? Rumi? Chief Seattle? Harriet Tubman? Queen Liliuokalani? Ghandi? Marian Anderson? Einstein? but more so than these worthies, there are the little people the world over who eke out a meager existence in obscurity with the love of God and their neighbor in their hearts, these are the ones who will be invited. 
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Sages from the west, sages from the east, wise men and holy men, artists and poets, the spirit of the Nazarene penetrates all societies, all religions.  That's the eastness and the westness of it all:

I have my brothers among the Turks, Papists, Jews, and all peoples, not that they are Turks,

Jews, Papists and sectaries, or will remain so.  In the evening they will be called into the

vineyard and given the same wage as we.  From the east and from the west children of

Abraham will be raised up out of the stones and will sit down with God at His table.

                                                                                                                                  (Sebastian Frank)
     Jesus had his own criteria for determining who shall, or shall not, have table fellowship with Abraham.  Thus, when certain Pharisees said to him "We be Abraham's seed," (John 8:33), Jesus replied:

"If you were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham."  (John 8:39)

      Before attempting to stone him, the aforementioned Pharisees asserted to Jesus that"Abraham is our father" (John 8:39).  Not mincing words, Jesus retorted:

Ye are of your father the devil, ... (John 8:44)

     "The works of Abraham"?  Since so much seems to depend on it, we should like to know more about this.  What works are these?  Offhand, it would seem they have something to do with simple honesty and good will motivated by kindness.  Two forks in the road: the one Pharisaical, the other ecclesiastical.

     The Rabbinic and Christian movements that emerged in the late 1st and early 2nd Centuries, both laid claim to being Abraham's promised sons and the Prophets' exclusive heirs.  (Later Islam, too, would advance such claims, not through Isaac but, rather, through Ishmael.)  While it's late in the day to be backtracking to a 1st or 2nd Century fork-in-the-road, enough of the historical record survives to sort out and examine the validity of these claims.  The plan is, beginning with normative/rabbinic/Talmudic/Pharisaical Judaism (denominate it as one will), to reconstruct the sequence of events giving rise to Judeo-Christianity, a heritage which for better or for worse impacts us all.  The contention advanced here is that both rabbinical and ecclesiastical authorities, when confronted by the claims and principles of the carpenter from Nazareth, blew right through the intersection, right past the narrow gate.  It is further asserted that normative Judaism took the form it did in part as a reaction to the Nazarene movement, rejecting not only the Nazarene's Scriptures, but its principles and not only its principles but its participants; most particularly it rejected Jesus:    
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Jesus' most venomous opposition came from conservative groups in the synagogue: not from

the indifferent, but from the strict, not from the backsliders, but from those who knew the law

and fulfilled it to the letter, proud that they were more virtuous than their neighbors.

                                                                                           (Lewis Mumford, The Condition of Man)

     Also anathema to the Pharisees was any outreach to Gentiles as Gentiles.  Before being martyred and perhaps as a contributing factor to his demise, James, Jesus' brother, brought forward this prophetic word to the believing elders in Jerusalem:

After this I [God] will return and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen

down; ... that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom

my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things."                   (Acts 15:16-17)

Glory and its soon departure.

     God's experiment with theocracy began with mighty signs and wonders as he preformed when he went before the people as a pillar of smoke by day and as a pillar of fire by night.  After 50 days, when Israel was in the wilderness, the first Pentecost occurred, the highlight of which was the giving of the Law when the mountain all a smoke and God came down even as it us recorded in Exodus 19.  Thus God fashioned for Israel an independent, communal existence with the Law serving, as it wer,e a marriage contract, representing Israel's betrothal to God.  But from the get-go it was a  stormy relationship - the kind where they throw pots and pans at each other.  When Moses came down the mountaintop with the stone- engraved contract in hand, he found the people dancing naked about a golden calf.  Not an auspicious beginning.  Moses smashed the tablets to smithereens, then had to do up a replacement copy.  This was just the beginning to one of the most thoroughly disfunctional marriages on record:

And they [the people] said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let

not God speak with us, lest we die.                                                               (Exodus 20:19)

So he [YHVH] gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls.  (Psalm 105:15)

     By various stages God disengaged himself from Israel.  First there were intermediaries but eventually the whole venture fell apart until catastrophe overtook them.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel at Ramah;

and said unto him, Behold thou art grown old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now

make us a king to judge us like all the nations.  But the things displeased Samuel when they

said, Give us a king to judge us."  And Samuel prayed unto YHVH.  And YHVH said unto

Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee:for they have not
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rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.  According to all

the works which they have done since the day that brought them out of Egypt even unto this

day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served others gods, so do they also unto thee.

Now therefore, hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew

them the manner of the that shall reign over them.  ...     

So Samuel spoke all the words of YHVH the people who had asked of him a king.  And

he said, this will be the procedures of the king who will reign over you; he will take your

sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run

before his chariots.  And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties,

and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and

equipment for his chariots.  He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and

bakers.  And he will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves,

and give them to his servants. And he will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards,

and give to his officers and to his servants.  He will also take your male servants and your

female servants and your best young men and your donkeys, and use them for his work.  He

will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants.  Then you will

cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord

will not answer you in that day.

Nevertheless the people refused to to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we

 will have a king over us; that we may be like all the nations; ...                 (I Samuel 8:1-20)       

     Despite occasional up-ticks, the overall trend was downward until eventually the prophets ceased prophesying, the priests ceased ministering, and the people ceased living in the land for all had been laid waste and they were cast forth out of it.  For a 1500 years, from Moses to 70 AD, the theocratic Kingdom of Israel stumbled along.

And they [Jesus disciples] asked him whether he would restore the Kingdom of Israel, and do

away with the alien king, and Pilate, Caesar's steward, and himself reign, or else establish the

kindred of David.  And then Jesus answered and said that it was not for them to know the

time which his father had ordered according to his will.  "But ye shall," he said, "receive the

virtue of the Holy Ghost, who shall descend within you.  And ye shall, before that time come,

be witnesses of my words & of my deeds and of my resurrection in Jerusalem, and in Judea, &

in Samaria, even unto the ends of the world."          (Nazarene Narrative Gospel, chapter 113)

     The receiving of the "virtue of the Holy Ghost" represents the spiritual continuation of the Kingdom of Israel by other means with the promise that at some unspecified future date Jesus will restore the visible kingdom.  All other attempts at restoring it are presumptuous.  Diabolical is the interpretation that the State of Israel is the Kingdom of Israel.  The Zionist mess in Jerusalem is an obscene imposture. 
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70 AD.

And YHVH rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation,

and cast them into another land, as it is to this day.  (Deuteronomy 29:29)

     God no doubt had his reasons for doing this to them.  He had his reasons.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.    (Psalm 122:6)

        In praying for Jerusalem let us not fail to distinguish which Jerusalem whose peace we pray for.  Is it the one which is below or is it the one which is above?  The apostle Paul made the distinction between them abundantly clear:

For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free-

woman.  But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free-

woman was by promise.  Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants;

the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.  For this Agar

is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage

with her children.  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

                                                                                                                      (Galatians 4:23-26)
The Jewish Religion as it is today traces it descent without a break from the Pharisees- their

ideas and methods are found in the Talmud.   (The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, 1943)

     On seeing that the siege of Jerusalem by Rome's legions would succeed, the wily,Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, ever the realist, managed to get himself smuggled out of the city in a coffin after which he presented himself to Vespasian, the Roman general (later emperor), with the purpose of securing Yavneh as a city of refuge for Jewish scholars and sages.  Pharisaical Judaism would begin over in Yavneh, demonstrating  that little had been learned by that devastating experience - except to regroup and exercise more cunning the next time around.  Here Judaism reconstituted itself along  Mishnaic lines, elevating as the Pharisees had done before the "oral" law which Jesus had dismissed as:

... the tradition of men ... making the word of God of no effect, ... (Mark 7:8, 13)

     Thus it was that instead of being forsaken, Jewish nationalism continued to simmer below the surface until bursting forth anew in modern times as Zionism. There, in Yavneh, ben Zakkai's successor, Rabbi Gamaliel, in order to uproot the growing Nazarene presence in their midst (for they were a great embarrassment, reminding them as they did of Jesus and what they did to him), doctored the Eighteen Blessings of the daily standing Amidah, the ancient Synagogue prayer
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credited to Ezra, adding to it the Birchat Minim.  Why? because a sizable minority of observant Jews had come to belief in Jesus and the Resurrection:

Birchat ha-Minim (benediction 12), introduced in Jabneh by Samuel ha-Katan, at the request

of Rabban Gamaliel II, was the added benediction ... It is generally assumed that this new

formulation was meant to force the Judeo-Christians out of the Jewish community; in the

Genizah version, the word Nozerim ("Christians") actually occurs. ... This severance of the

minim from the national body of Judaism had obvious halakhic implications.  Thus, meat

slaughtered by a min was forbidden to a Jew (Hul. 13a).  Likewise Torah scrolls, tefillin, and

mezuzot written by him are barred from use (Git. 45b; cf. Tosef., Hul. 2:20).  

                                                                                                                           (Encyclopedia Judaica)

     As for the text of the added curse, it read:

'For apostates let there be no hope, and the kingdom of arrogance do Thou speedily uproot

in our days; and let the Nazarenes and heretics perish as in a moment; let them be blotted

out of the book of life and not enrolled with the righteous.  Blessed are You, YHVH, who

humblest the arrogant.'

     By reason of its universal appeal, the story of Jesus' cross and resurrection has hadthe effect of breaking down the middle wall of partition separating Jews and Gentiles.  But Jewish exclusivity was inherently at odds with this result.  A "light to the Gentiles" they were not, nor did they want to be.  Moreover, to those reconstituting Judaism along Mishnaic lines, it was the Jewish people, not Jesus, who was God's chosen Son.  Their idea of Kingdom Come is that the Jews, not Jesus, should rule the Earth.  But just as a joint of meat without juice is dry and unsavory, so also is that religion that exults its own participants instead of God.  As best they could, the Jewish hierarchy tried to limit exposure to the Nazarenes' writings and so it became incumbent upon them to define canonicity in such a way as to exclude views so inimical to their own:

After the fall of Jerusalem, [70 AD] the Sanhedrin was reconstituted at Jabneh, first under

R. Johanan and then under the patriarch Rabban Gamaliel II (Tosef., Ber. 2:6).  The

Sanhedrin met in the upper story of a house or in a vineyard near a pigeon house.  In

some respects, the city was now regarded as the equal of Jerusalem: there the year was

intercalated and the shofar blown, and pilgrims from Asia visited the city three times a

 year (Tosef., Hul. 3:10; RH 29b; Shab. 11a).  Among the most important decisions made

at Jabneh was the arranging of the definitive canon of the Bible.  Between 70 and 132 C.E.,

Jabneh was "the great city, the city of scholars and rabbis"; most of the Tannaim of this

period taught there and Rabban Gamaliel was buried there.        (Encyclopedia Judaica)

     With the passage of more than a thousand years, hatred for the Nazarene has not subsided one iota:

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It is a mitzvah [religious duty] to eradicate Jewish traitors, minnim, and apikorsim, and to

cause them to descend to the pit of destruction, since they cause difficulty to the Jews and

sway the people away from God, as did Jesus of Nazareth and his students, and Tzadok,

Baithos, and their students.  May the name of the wicked rot."

                                                                                             (Moses Maimonides, Mishneh Torah)


       In this same late 1st  and early 2nd Century period, a process of churchification had set in which was a turn toward hierarchical religion.  On its face, with few tangible assets, the Nazarenes were not an inviting target.  All the same, wolves had entered in unawares to harry the flock, not that the Nazarenes could have been subverted so easily, if only they had stuck to their core principles, which some did but from which some apostatized.  Enter into the picture then such enticements as buildings, rituals, and entertainments, in exchange for which submission and obedience were sought.  Thus, before Rome was ever on the scene or could gather in its hands the reins of power, already a false leadership principle had been introduced, at least in certain locales.  For instance, in 107 AD (thereabouts, authorities differ), Ignatius, Antioch's celebrated bishop, was led captive to Rome, in the course of which journey, he is credited with having written seven letters to seven churches.  He wrote:

It is well to reverence both God and the bishop.  ... He who honors the bishop has been

honored by God; and he who does anything without the bishop does [in reality] serve the

devil.  ... It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would

upon the Lord himself.

     While Ignatius' courage is not at question, the wisdom and propriety of his advice, as quoted above, is.  It amounts to a poison pill which, if swallowed, absolutely  guarantees first authoritarianism and ultimately subjugation.  Clearly Ignatius (or, if not he, then whoever forged the above statements) was well down the slippery slope of false assumption of authority.  History offers many an object lesson as to where it all ends.  But first, let us consider how it begins.  It begins with those who presumably are "living stones" (I Peter 2:4) allowing themselves to become steppingstones on the career path to someone else's over-arching ambitions.  And when that is the case, we cannot claim that it's strictly a matter of an out-of-control leadership, but contributing to this falling away from apostolic principle were followers who would rather take their guidance from men whom they could see than from God whom they could not see.  Those willing to settle for this arrangement generally shrink from freedom, preferring regimentation instead, while finding safety in numbers.  One usurpation leads to and justifies another.  Once individual autonomy is violated, then the collegi
ality of the eldership can be 
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breached.  That is the progression: an eldership assumes an unjust authority over its flock setting the stage for the next power play, when an elder of elders assumes an unjust authority over the other elders.  Then, once a monarchial bishop has been installed, there arises a bishop of bishops, that is, an archbishop who assumes an unjust authority over a group of communities, thereby terminating community autonomy.  But it continues up the line from there until a power pyramid is formed with the capstone in the West being the Pope:

The vicar of Jesus Christ on earth and the visible head of the Church.   (Catechism of Pius X)

Now, therefore, we declare, say, determine and pronounce that for every human creature

it is necessarily for salvation to be subject to the authority of the Roman pontiff.

                                                                                                                   (Unam Sanctam, 1302)
     Hierarchy begets hierarchy.  The evidence has been gathered, the verdict is in, writ large for all to see: futile wars, broken hopes, dashed dreams, interminable wrangles, pogroms, inquisitions, a violated environment has ruined the testimony of Jesus Christ for millions, if not for billions, worldwide.  From this succession of power plays humanity struggles to awaken.  Such has been the effect of unleashing a false leadership principle on the world.  Nor did this happen because a heretic sneaked in unawares, at least not initially; nor because of pressure applied from Rome, not initially; rather, a trusted insider, the second bishop of Antioch, embraced an unworthy concept of theocratic authority, raising high his seat over his fellows.  This didn't happen at the periphery (nor, so far as we know, at the center, in Jerusalem) but at Antioch, where Paul and Barnabas had ministered a generation before.

     Top down organizations rely on imposed uniformity of doctrine and practice, not unity of the Spirit.  For example: in 190 AD, Pope Victor I proposed excommunicating throughout the entire all in the Roman Empire who observed Christ's passion at Passover instead of at Easter.  Fancy that, apostolic tradition replaced on pain of excommunication and for Eastre's sake, a pagan deity!  Coerced conformity satisfies the sectarian imperative to establish group discipline and a unique corporate identity through boundary setting, the more arbitrary the better to subdue the rational mind and to hammer down the nail which sticks up.  Recently Pope Benedict XVI (9/21/05) warned that"religion constructed on a 'do-it-yourself' basis cannot ultimately help us."  Do it ourselves or let them do it for us, that's the choice.
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PART IV:  Praxis.

Jesus replaced the narrative of power with the power of personal example.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the YHVH of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6)

     Presenting himself as Israel's rightful King, Jesus appointed 12 men to rule Israel's 12 tribes.  But his bona fide offer was rejected.  Instead of being crowned, Jesus was crucified.  Every institution of Jewish corporate life had failed the test.  In the absence of national sovereignty, lost to Rome in 63 BC, the temple had fallen under the thumb of self-serving Roman sycophants.  Meanwhile, subject to the Pharisaical party, the synagogues were into Mishnaic nitpicking and extra-biblical rule-making.

     Once rejected by temple and synagogue, Jesus' fall back position was to establish an egalitarian society of friends against whom the gates of hell would not prevail.  Rather than replace, abolish, or reform any of the aforementioned institutions, Jesus simply moved on.  Instead of promoting a reformed synagogue or even a substitute synagogue movement, or a purified Aaronic priesthood, or a resurrected Davidic kingship, Jesus moved on, turning to the last bastion of civility, the home and to the individual believer.  By radically reaching out to those of other races, genders, religions, economic, and social backgrounds, and especially to the dispossessed, Jesus set the tone for how to conduct redemptive fellowship, teaching us to see possibilities where before others only had seen impossibilities.

     Nearly 4000 years have elapsed since the Covenant was established with Abraham.  In this expanse of time, testings have been frequent, while respites have been relatively few and brief.  From the shadows of the pyramids to the shadows of the crematoria, Abraham's descendants have long been a perishing people, yet they live and the promises of God remain.  From Abraham to Jesus, 1970 BC to 30 AD (2000 years),were the former days and - since that time - are the latter days.  In the former days were patriarchs, kings, and priests; in these latter days there are redemptive fellowships in which context no special place is accorded priests, prelates, popes, vicars, rabbis, or any other authority figure - God the Father being sufficient.  If there are priests, it is the priesthood of believers.  All are priests and kings or none are.  Nevertheless, believers are finite and fallible.  Though ruled above and from within by God, as social beings we need each other, but only on the basis of mutual respect.  The Nazarene distinctive is to take the message of peace with God and the message of God's peace within, which messages had been extended previously to the Jews, and see to it that these messages are extended to all peoples everywhere and on an equal basis.
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  Deconstructing the sacrificial system.

Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.  (John 1:29)

     Jesus did not come, as some suppose, for the purpose of negating the principle of blood sacrifice; rather, to center it in himself.  In doing so, however, he undermined the temple's ritual, sounding the death knell to the priestly system of sacrifice:

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more

perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by

the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy

place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  For if the blood of bulls and of goats,

and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself

without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

                                                                                                                           (Hebrews 9:11-14)
     Those who depict biblical faith as a "slaughterhouse religion" are not incorrect in their perception that the temple functioned as an abattoir:

Essentially, this [Temple] ritual involved the worshiper laying hands on the head of an

animal (for example, a lamb or a bull), and then slaying the animal.  The priest then took

the blood and poured it on the altar as a sacrifice to God.  Now, as many commentators

have noted, the Old Testament never really tells us how such a sacrifice is supposed

to provide Atonement, except for laying down the principle that the "life is in the blood"

(Lev. 17:11-14).

Given this principle, and the claim, advanced by many commentators, that laying on

of hands is best interpreted as an act of identification with the one on
whom hands

are laid (Taylor 53-4; Dunn 44-5), a straightforward Christian interpretation
of the

Hebrew sacrificial ritual follows. ... The animal can be seen as analogous to Christ,

the offering of its blood can be seen as analogous to Christ's offering his life over to God

and others in love and trust, and thus the laying on of hands can be seen as analogous

to our identification with, and thus sharing in, that love and trust expressed by Christ on

the Cross--a sharing that results in our redemption.  From this analysis it indeed follows

that we are saved by Christ's blood shed on the Cross, but not in the magical way

commonly conceived.  Rather, Christ's blood represents his life completely given over

to God in love, trust, and self-sharing, and we are saved from sin by sharing in this life

given over in perfect love.  This is why Jesus says in John 6 that we must drink his blood -

that is, his life - in order to have eternal life.   (Robin Collins, "Incarnational Theory")

The old cross is a symbol of death.  It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human

being.  The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had

already said good-by to his friends.  He was not coming back.  He was going out to have 
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it ended.  The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all

of the man, completely and for good.  It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim.

It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

                                                                              (A. W. Tozer, Man the Dwelling Place of God)       

    Running through the Scriptures is the scarlet thread of redemption:

This "blood-red" thread begins in Genesis, in the garden of Eden, with God himself

shedding the blood of animals to clothe Adam and Eve in their sin.  By following this

bloodline we can discover the greatest story ever told, the story of our Redeemer, Jesus

Christ, and the story of salvation for all mankind through salvation in His blood.

                                                         (John & Jackie Matthews, Scarlet Thread Ministries)
     On account of guilty performance, humanity rightly seeks to propitiate an offended God but why does that require a blood sacrifice?  How is this redemptive?  While we might know what guilt is, do we know how to expiate it?  The Nazarene answer is found in Jesus who, in their estimation, knew no sin yet was made sin on our behalf:

Let's begin by analyzing what unity with Christ amounts to.  A variety of metaphors

which suggest a very intimate relationship are used in Scripture: Various passages

compare our future unity with Christ to that between a vine and its branches (Jn. 15),

to that between the parts of a body (I Cor. 12:12-28), to that between the Son and the

Father (Jn. 17), and to that which ideally occurs in marriage (Mk. 10:8; Eph. 5:25-32).

What is common in each of these analogies is that unity is conceived as involving a

mutual sharing, integrating, and intertwining of two selves, along with the sharing of a

common life.  For example, the vine and the branches are inseparable from one another,

sharing the common life of the plant together, and the life and well-being of each part of

the body is intimately tied to that of all the other members, so that no part can get along

without the other members. ...  just as an apple tree branch, for example, cannot be

successfully be grafted into a form of life that is totally alien to it, such as a horse, God's

self cannot be united with our selves in the way scripture suggests if God's self is too alien

from our selves.  But, apart from the Incarnation, God's self would be very alien to ours.

After all, God is infinite, we are finite; God knows everything, our knowledge is limited;

God is eternal, we are not; God is everywhere, we are confined to a body; God is not

dependent, we are vulnerable  and dependent; and the list goes on.  Thus, in order to

establish as much common ground between God's self and ours as a basis for the deep

sort of intertwining unity the biblical images point to, God must not only take on human

nature, but God must share what I call our life-situation, for our life-situation as human

beings is inseparable from what we are.  (Robin Collins, "Incarnational Theory")       

     Thus it was that God sent His dear Son to experience what we experience which Collins lists as "alienation from God and others (ourselves included), vulnerability, suffering, victimization, and mortality."  He goes on to write:

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... the Eastern Orthodox theologian Kallistos Ware stresses, the Cross represents the very

climax of Christ entering into our human condition, and thus the very climax of Christ's

atoning work.  On the Cross Christ even experienced our alienation from God, as evidenced

by his exclamation "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  (Mark 16:34).

     The function of the Messiah as sin-bearer:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought

as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth

not his mouth.  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his

generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my

people was he stricken.  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in

his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit found in his mouth.

Yet it pleased YHVH to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his

soul an offering to sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure

of YHVH shall prosper in his hand.                                                          (Isaiah 53:1-10)

     In religious history, it was a step forward when animal sacrifice replaced human sacrifice, as was the case with the Mosaic system of sacrifice, but even within that system of atonement it was understood that physical sacrifice was merely symbolic while what really counted was interior and of the heart:

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou

wilt not despise.  Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of

Jerusalem.  Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness ...

                                                                                                                                         (Psalm 51)

     Another function of sacred violence, which is what sacrifice is, is to expiate rivalry. When rivalries over mutually desired objects occur, the potential for destabilizing violence exists, particularly when neither party to a dispute would admit fault (as was usually the case).  Thus, it was found convenient to find some marginal third party to blame and through this metaphysical fiction make peace.  As Rene Girard wrote:

Sacrifice has often been described as an act of mediation between a sacrificer and

a "deity."  Because the very concept of a deity, much less a deity who receives blood

sacrifices, has little reality in this day and age, the entire institution of sacrifice is

relegated by most modern theorists to the realm of the imagination.  ... Nevertheless,

there is a common denominator that determines the efficacy of all sacrifices and that

becomes increasingly apparent as the institution grows in vigor.  This common

denominator is internal violence - all the dissensions, rivalries, jealousies, and quarrels
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within the community that the sacrifices are designed to suppress.  The purpose of

the sacrifice is to restore harmony to the community, to reinforce the social fabric. ...

                                                                                                         (Violence and the Sacred)

There is one who can forgive everyone everything

because he shed innocent blood for everyone and everything.


And [God] having made peace through the blood of his [Jesus'] cross, by him to reconcile

all things unto himself; ... whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

                                                                                                                                 (Colossians 1:20)

         On quoting in the Assembly Amos 9:11-12, James then advised (Acts 15:19) "that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: ..."  In doing so, he expressed the common Nazarene understanding regarding Jesus' blood sacrifice, that it was universal.  The choice before the Jewish people always has been either to show forth God's Light to the Gentiles or else to shun them at every turn.  Said another way, the alternative always has been either to serve the Gentiles or master them.  God's plan was for the Jews was to serve the nations in a priestly capacity, not dissimilar to the Levitical priesthood's role within Judaism.  It was not because the Jews were better or stronger or wiser than others that they were chosen, for they are not so; rather, they were chosen because God wished to demonstrate His grace in those who were weakest.  Not for privilege were the Jewish people chosen but for responsibility.  Thus, the all-time worst mistranslation is that found in the King James Version (as well as in many others) where the text is made to read that God loves the Jewish people "above" all other people.  This is wrong.  The Hebrew original does not say "above."  God does not love the Jewish people above all but among all other people.

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number

than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and

because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord

brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from

the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.                                                            (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

We have no idea how bitter the divisions of the ancient world were.  WE HAVE NO IDEA.

We have violated the law against one another, so someone must die.  Violence is necessary.

Hence, as the work of Rene Girard has dramatically demonstrated, every people group was

built around and survived around some central scapegoat who represented the threat of the

outside.  Someone must die for our souls to be satisfied.  Well, Christ died for ALL (every

people group, every generation).  Now, we can be reconciled.  ... Our collective task in the

future is to bring the supernatural power of Christ to people who hate one another, and in

fact predicate their whole identity on being against each other.  The "us against them" mode
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is very potent.  But it can be overcome.  Not through programmes or discussion, but by the

power of the Matchmaking Spirit of God.  And it does not need to wait for international

conferences in church, business, or state.  It can start right now in little churches, where the

Spirit is always operating through Word, Community, and Sacrament, as we follow the

Apostolic command to "one-another each other," so that "each esteems the other better than

himself."  This is the meaning of justification by faith for our time.                   (Rich Bledsoe)

     Through Jesus Christ, the middle wall of partition separating Jews and Gentiles was done away with.  It was done away with not by requiring Gentiles to become Jews.  It was not done away with not by requiring Jews to become Gentiles.  Rather, it was done away with by establishing a greater truth around which all can coalesce - the unity of faith in the bond of love for all people.  In this instance, no one has stated the underlying principle better than did Paul:

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all

the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of

Abraham, who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many

nations,) ...                                                                                                            (Romans 4:16-17)

Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached

before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.  So then

they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham                            (Galatians 3:7-10)

By undermining cultural and religious presuppositions about purity and moral rectitude,

Jesus' parable [regarding the Good Samaritan] confronts his audience (the Pharisees)

with the fact that they can no longer justify themselves or the cosmology of violence by

the sacrificial systems and scapegoating mechanisms that they themselves have

created for precisely that purpose.                    (Fredricks, The Cross and the begging bowel)

In Jesus' death and resurrection the myth of redemptive violence has received a fatal

blow.  Jesus has become the scapegoat to end scapegoating.  For those who truly

follow Jesus, the myth of redemptive violence is forever rejected, ...          (Joe Roos)

     But what happens once the judicial and sacerdotal structures are corrupted?  Where does one turn for satisfaction of wrong when God's high hats, the mitered priests and the long-robed scribes who minister the Law, have lost all credibility?

Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered

without the gate.  Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his
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reproach.  For we have here no continuing city, but we seek one to come.  By him

therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our

lips giving thanks to his name.                                                           (Hebrews 13:12-15)

     Though Jesus' was a "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10) atonement, he still calls us to take up our cross, which could be interpreted as an invitation to become fellow participants in his redemptive activity, sacrificially bearing one another's burdens.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and

follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for

me will save it.                                                                                                   (Luke 9:23-24)

     Through helping and being helped, we participate in the life of God as well as participate in one another's lives which is the meaning of the vine and branch teaching of John's Gospel, chapter 15: he in us and we in him and all in God.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed

we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.             (Romans 8:17)

The end of tithing.

     A basic principle is that of the lesser giving to the greater.  Hence Abraham's tithing to Melchizedek or the Israelite people tithing to the temple.  But the temple's function, Jesus' sacrifice superseded.  40 years later, when the temple was destroyed, tithing effectually was brought to an end.  Since then he who receives a tithe, as well as he who grants it, are alike mistaken, yet how often have we heard bigshot religionists quote Malachi 3:10, saying "bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse," meaning, not the Lord's house, but their own?  Once believers learn to put their relationship with God above all else, then they will be fortified against institutional conceits as well as the blandishments of charismatic, pay-the-fee-I-set-you-free charmers.  There's no percentage in joining someone's 10% club.  Jesus undermined the tithe for good.

I have called you friends.  (John 15:15)

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants;

for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things

that I have heard from my Father I have made known unto you.                   (John 15:14-15)

     Only in a few key instances is the term "friend" applied in Scripture to an individual in his relationship with God.  As James wrote: 
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Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was

called the Friend of God.                                                                                  (James 2:23)                  

And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

friend.                                                                                                                 (Exodus 33:11)

     Scripture also identifies David as God's friend, for of him God said:

... I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who shall fulfill

all my will.                                                                                                              (Acts 13:22)

The principal design of James was to show that when God justifies or reconciles a sinner

to Himself, He also works in that person a disposition which is friendly toward Him, a spirit

and attitude which reciprocates His own benignity.  In a genuine conversion an enemy is

transformed into a friend to God, so that he loves Him, delights in Him, and serves Him.

No one has any right to regard himself as a friend of God unless he has the character of

one and conducts himself accordingly.  If I am the friend of God then I shall be jealous of

His honor, respect His will, value His interests, and devote myself to promoting the same;

in a word, I shall "show my self friendly."                         (The Doctrine of Reconciliation)

         Out of this friendship came "a covenant of salt."  (See Numbers 18,19):

Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David

for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?     (II Chronicles 13:5)

     In the Middle East's sultry climate 3000 years ago, salt was a precious commodity used in food preservation.  By reason of its association with food, salt was emblematic of hospitality and friendship.  Thus the expression, "to have eaten of his salt."  To withhold salt bespoke of stinginess or suggested a lack of respect.  Thus the Levitical priesthood was enjoined by God:

And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou

suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all

thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.                                                               (Leviticus 2:13)

     To make an offering acceptable, salt was required - and this is true, not just of physical sacrifices, but spiritual.  Said Jesus:

... every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.      (Mark 9:49)

     To his disciples, Jesus said:

Ye are the salt of the earth.       (Matthew 5:13)       
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Warning his disciples against salt substitutes, Jesus said:
Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its saltiness, where with will ye season it?  ... Have
... salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.                                     (Mark 9:50)

          As we see above, salt and peace relate to each other:

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be

gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

                                                                                                                      (Numbers 6:24-27)
     The expression of favor to "make his face shine upon thee" is the opposite in meaning of the expression "to hide the face."  The expression to "lift up his countenance upon thee" is the smile of acceptance.  The "giving of peace" is more than absence of hostility. It is the beriti shalom of Numbers 25:12 or the berit shelomi of Isaiah 54:10. At the end of his earthly ministry, when Jesus pronounced a benediction on his twelve messengers, it is likely that it was according to the above prescribed form.

There ain't no magic.

Behold, the mother of the Lord and his brothers said to him [Jesus], "John the Baptist

baptizes for the remission of sins; let us go and be baptized by him."  (Gospel of the Hebrews)

     Just as a wedding ring symbolizes commitment, so baptism symbolizes commitment. No matter how fancy the ring, it is not efficacious.  The success of the marriage does not depend on it.  It is laughable to think it could.  Likewise baptism.  Was the water blessed? the priest sanctified? or the event Church sanctioned? It doesn't matter. Why? because there ain't no magic; never was, never will be.  While symbolic statements of intent have their place, what lies behind such statements is what really counts.  So what if Judas Iscariot was baptized, probably either by John the Baptist or by Jesus, and probably in the Jordan River?  Everything was optimized.  Did it save him?  Of course not.  Some Gnostics probably thought their "bridal chamber" ceremony which incorporated the Magdalene was efficacious but no more so was it than any of the Church's sacraments were efficacious.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his

death? therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was

raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness

of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also

in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him,

that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For

he that is dead is freed from sin.   Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we 
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shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more;

death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but

in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead

indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.     (Romans 6:3-11)

     Asked the Ethiopian convert of Philip:

See here is water; what doeth hinder me to be baptized?    (Acts 8:36)

     Evidently nothing hindered for, in reply to his question, the apostle Philip said:

If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  (Acts 8:37)

     Then affirmed the Ethiopian eunuch:

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  (Acts 8:37)

     Just like that, a done deal.  No creed, no catechism, no period of investigation necessary, just faith.  Neither time nor place were the issue: any season, any body of water would do.  Such were the ways of the Nazarenes: their ordinances were simple, their teachings public, their standard of admission, heartfelt faith alone.

And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

                                                                                                                                                   (Acts 8:37)       

     Said the apostle Paul:

For as many of you as have been immersed into Christ have put on Christ.   (Galatians 3:27)

     This statement of Paul's is not actually about a ceremonial rite but about a spiritual transaction that rightfully should precede any physical baptism.  That which makes the baptismal covenant sacred, is that which makes the marriage covenant sacred, the parties involved mutually committing to each other.  The Magdalene and James knew nothing of sacraments but the Church and, to a lesser degree, the Gnostics, introduced such concepts.

     When Nazarenes broke bread in remembrance of Jesus, it was just that, a memorial - not a sacrament, the real sacrament being life itself.  Digging ditches, patching britches, whatever we may do, when rightly motivated, that becomes our sacrament.
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     Said Cyprian of Carthage, "outside of the Church there is no salvation."  But if we  take seriously James' words and deeds, we will not look to magical rites, institutional affiliation, or a churchly middleman to mediate our spiritual life.  Simply put, there is no substitute for a personal quest, each grappling individually with the great issues of life.  But as James interpreted and applied it, it was an active, not a passive, principle:

Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith,

and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my

works.  ... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

                                                                                                                                  (James 2:17-18, 26)
     Real wisdom is not necessarily a matter of knowing more but of actually applying what we already know.  Or as Paul puts it in Ephesians:

For we are his [God's] workmanshp, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God

hath before ordained that we should walk in them.                                       (Ephesians 2:10)

     The thrust of the Nazarene message is a call toto put forth our best effort.  There is  naught to be offered to those at ease in Zion.  As for the once-in-grace- always-in-grace-no-matter-how-much-a-disgrace crowd, let them hang their heads in shame.  Not hand-folding and star-gazing, not easy-believism or cheap grace - only serious commitment and works of compassion will do.  The need then is for workhorses, not show horses.  Show horses need not apply, for Jesus:

... gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a
peculiar people, zealous of good works.                                                                         (Titus 214)

     The little flock: a society of friends, the fellowship of the faithful.

Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  (Luke 12:32)

     By deconstructing the narrative of power, Jesus freed up local, small-scale, Christian societies from centralizing bureaucratic constraints so that they could proceed unhindered with ministries of reconciliation and encouragement.

     The dynamic of breaking bread from home to home is qualitatively different from that of a congregational setting.  Whereas one is a face-to-face community actively relating to each other as a society of friends, the other involves a crowd passively gazing upon the backs of strangers while looking forward to a raised platform from which professional clergy minister.  It is true that the sound of congregational singing is liable to be more impressive than what might emanate from the home and it is true that a professional platform speaker is liable to be more eloquent than a home speaker.
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     And therein lies a temptation, that of going with what is most outwardly impressive. It's not as though congregating per se was anything to be ashamed of, no, it's just that Jesus didn't sanction it; rather, he sanctioned his little flock.  Albeit modest in scope, his approach is revolutionary in its potential to exercise moral authority through force of personal example.  Let us not rue the day of small deeds.  As leaven infiltrates dough, so also does the fellowship which Jesus envisioned quietly infiltrate society, spreading contagiously from individual to individual, from home to home.  The disciples went house to house breaking bread, because the home is the last bastion and truly appropriate place of assembly. Home sweet home.  As Samuel Johnson remarked:

To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every

enterprise and labor tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.

     If we've learned anything over the last 2000 years, it is that God does not indwell organizations; rather, the life of God is in the heart of man.  But with personal authority goes increased responsibility, for to whom much is given, so also much is expected.

The kingdom of heaven is like to a mustard seed which is the smallest of all seeds but

when grown is the greatest.                                                                (Matthew 13, Mark 4)

     It is not fully appreciated how wonderfully subversive Jesus' concept of fellowship can be.  Absent a centralized hierarchy or even a local congregation, absent building, creed, membership list, preacher, or budget, all that is left to it that might serve as an organizing principle is holy friendship and sacred purpose.  Ecclesiastics don't often get it but plain folk will understand and appreciate that this really can be enough.  The concept then is one of a voluntary, ethical fellowship, maintaining the unity of theSpirit in the bonds of love.  This is God's ekklesia, his summoned-out community.

     Not unlike the quest to find the holy grail, the quest to find the true Church has led seekers down a variety of roads.  Is the true Church the one headquartered in Rome? Salt Lake City? Brooklyn? Nashville? Tacoma Park? Boston?  The unquestionable assumption (unquestionable because presumably it is biblical) is that the Church IS; Godinstituted it and now it's just a question of our locating the right one and joining it.  And though this assumption is practically axiomatic for most Christians, it is well worth reexamining.  Recently (05/98), Hebrew and Greek scholar, James Tabor, lead translator of the Original Bible Project, in an open letter, stated:

The Original Bible will be one of the few modern English translations of the Greek

Christian Scriptures in which the word "church," so sacred to millions, will not appear!  
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Odd indeed that one Greek New Testament word , ekklesia, would be translated by another Greek word, kyriakon (from which our word "church" is derived), a word not found in all the New Testament.)  This wholesale substitution of one Greek word for another has occasioned great confusion.  The former word applies to a people, but the latter originally meant "the Lord's house," a physical structure; then, by extension, it was applied either to the organization owning it or else to the membership thereof.

     Educationally, socially, there is much to share and to receive - the true give-and-take of friendship.  If there is any place for rivalry, it is to see who can be most  generous, most hospitable, most forebearing, with reciprocity being the norm.  Sun-crowned in private life and public thinking, believers seek to live in harmony with man and the natural world.  Ill becoming is it of any society so conceived to subordinate some while exalting others.  To be sure, there are going to be individuals who excel in one area or another; but this is no excuse for their being elevated.  In this the  age of personal responsibility and individual initiative, there is no call from God that any should rule.  It matters not who the man is, our lives are our lives.  No one should fall into another person's orb: "I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, I am of Christ" (I Corinthians 1:12), or, for that matter, of Mary or of James.  The trick is to be independent but not aloof, for we are all as unique as our own DNA is unique, yet as interconnected as is the web of Life is interconnected.

     Who rightfully heads the home assembly?  The head or heads of household.  On this basis is the Lord's good order maintained.  When each home is the source of its own discipline and generates its own tradition, then the basis for a diversity of practices exists.  Unlike sects or congregations, a community can tolerantly accept a diversity of paths.  Only in such an environment can Jews be Jews and Gentiles, Gentiles, with equality of fellowship between them.  Jesus' generous universalism transcends every form of boundary setting sectarianism.  Pray, sing, dance, break bread, read, converse, highly structured or spontaneous, jovial or solemn, it all depends on the tradition of the particular home and the inclinations of those present.  Giving good expression to the freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ, Paul wrote:

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath

a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation.  Let all things be

done unto edifying.                                                                              (II Corinthians 14:26)

     Even as Holy Writ is diverse and multifaceted (consisting as it does of narrative, chronicle, prophecy, law, proverbs, poetry, lament and much else besides) so also is the community founded upon them.  Thus is genuine unity, unity in diversity.  The apostolic community, not being an organization, but an organism, found its  

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unity in diversity and therefore could delight that the mountain of faith was climbable from many directions.  We all have need to learn from one another, but this can happen without becoming each other's disciples or disciplers.  Therefore, neither a disciple nor a discipler be, except, that is, to be the Lord's disciple; also, neither a victim nor a victimizer be.  There's no percentage in it.  Either a group dynamic prevails or a God dynamic.  The apostolic approach beautifully enhances the latter.  Because there is that of God in every man, the approach is one of open arms to those without.

     Just as a coal taken from the hearth burns less brightly in isolation so also do our lights burn less brightly in isolation.  We have God above and within, for he is both transcendent and immanent, yet we are also social beings in need of one another.  Whereas walking in the light is a move toward personal transcendence; holy friendship is a move toward mutual transcendence; while the home-based community is a move toward societal transcendence.  One expression of this was the Jerusalem fellowship's move toward voluntary communitarianism, that is, a cooperative, face-to-face community.  As they practiced it, this proved to be a joyful lovefest, one of open-handed giving and receiving, in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing:

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions

and goods and parted them to every man had need.  And they continuing daily of one accord

in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their food with gladness and

singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.         (Acts 2:44-47)

     A lover of equality, James would have seen in this the opportunity to put into practice the egalitarian principles he advocates so eloquently in his epistle.  Perhaps the bartering of services helped offset the lack of money while the tightening of bonds that goes with communal living helped stave off the demoralizing effect of having individuals picked off one-by-one by the authorities.  There is unity to be found in community.

For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and

there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth

the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor,

Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves,

and are become judges of evil thoughts?                                                         (James 2: 2-4)

     Be it said that the history of intentional community too often has been one of too many intentions, and usually of the wrong kind.  One should know in advance, because they are well-articulated, what those intentions are and whether they are worthy.  Beyond that, what determines the success of such a venture are imponderables relating to the character of the community's participants, and their spiritual fervor.  
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... God has created believers as the "first fruits" of the final harvest (James 1:18).  They

represent the entrance of the endtime into the present time.  Believers, therefore, must wait

in an alien and hostile world for God's righteousness to be established (James 5:19, 1:20).

   The early rains must be followed by the latter rains before the final harvest comes (James

   5:7).  Like a farmer waiting for the "precious produce of the field," believers are to wait with

   patience.  The Prophets "who spoke in the name of the Lord" provide the pattern "of

   suffering and perseverance" that we are to imitate.  Those who persevere prove the goodness

   of God, that he is full of compassion and merciful (James 5:10-11).

Waiting for the endtime brings responsibilities toward one another in the meantime.  One of

the chief concerns of the letter is the conduct of believers in Christian community.  ...  Faith

in Jesus Christ incompatible with favoring the wealthy ... We must rather love our neighbor as

ourselves, especially the neighbor in need (James 2:1-13).  Not many are to become teachers

... Those who do so are to display their wisdom in kind and gentle behavior (James 3:1-2, 13-18).

 ... Believers must not "groan to God" against one another, calling down his judgment on their

neighbor.  The Judge himself is at the gate (James 5:9).  Probably James's stern prohibition

against swearing an oath also has in view relations within the community of faith.  Above all

else we are to be open and honest in our dealings with one another.  (James 5:12).  

                                              (The Waiting Church and its Duty: James 5:13-18, Mark A. Seifrid)     

Living lightly: the Nazarene lifestyle.

     From frugality cometh saving; from saving cometh having, and from having cometh the opportunity to share:

But when this same Domitian [Emperor of Rome from 81 to 96 AD] had issued his

orders, that the descendants of David should be slain, an ancient tradition says that

some of the heretics brought accusation against the descendants of Judas, as the

brother of our Savior, according to the flesh, because they were of the family of David,

and as such, also, were related to Christ.  This is declared by Hegesippus as follows.

There were yet living of the family of our Lord, the grandchildren of Judas, called the

brother of our Lord, according to the flesh.  These were reported as being of the family

of David, and were brought to Domitian by the Evocatus [the Homeland Security of the

day].  For this emperor was as much alarmed at the appearance of Christ as Herod.

He put the question, whether they were of David's race, and they confessed that they

were.  He then  asked them what property they had, or how much money they owned.

And both of them answered, that they had between them only nine thousand denarii

[a denarii being worth about $1 or $2 or so in our terms], and this they had not in silver,

but in the value of a piece of land, containing only thirty-nine acres; from which they

raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor.  Then they also began

to show their hands, displaying the hardness of their bodies, and the callused hands
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caused by incessant toil as evidence of their labor.  And when they were asked

concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to

appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly

and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when He should come in

glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works.

Upon hearing this, Domititian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them

as of no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the

Church.  Thus delivered, they oversaw the churches, both as witnesses and relatives of

the Lord.  When peace was established, they continued living even to the times of Trajan.


A voluntary simplicity.

He [James] drank no wine or strong drink, nor did he eat meat.  No razor came near

his head, nor did he anoint himself with oil, and he did not go to the [Roman] baths

[a place of debauchery.]                                                                                     (Hegesippus)

      While aesthetic practice could give rise to dark images of self-abnegation, implying a vain attempt to propitiate an angry God, it can also indicate that higher motives are at work.  In elucidating Hegesippus' statement above, one Jamesian scholar wrote:

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 Nazarite vow and to Hegesippus'

description of James' practice; ...                     ("James, Jesus' Brother" by Bruce Chilton)

     Another take on James' abstemious lifestyle:

The abstinence of St. James was not exclusively directed to the mortification of the flesh ...

He who abstains from meat altogether would not be called upon to eat the Paschal Lamb; he

who had no land or possessions was not concerned with the laws of Tithe ... Like Jesus the

Temple was for him a House of Prayer: he was Righteous, he kept the Law, so far as it

applied to him, but sacrifices were a matter of flesh-eaters and tithes for the rich.

                                                                                                 (F. C. Burkitt, Christian Beginnings)

         Beyond such motives as are adduced above, living lightly and inoffensively upon the earth, particularly vegetarian practices, could qualify as practical applications of Jesus' ethical teachings, representing an outward expression of inner commitment.  Because consumption of plant life is a vastly more efficient use of land and resources than is the consumption of animal life, it could serve as an alternative to a life of vain striving  and conflict.  In accommodating one another, even while treating the natural creation with respect, we help create a place under the sun for all, while staving off the day of shortfall.  Embracing the vegetarian lifestyle in 1962, Isaac Bashivis Singer (renowned for his sketches of Jewish shtetl life), thirty years later, in 1982, wrote:
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This is my protest against the conduct of the world.  To be a vegetarian is to disagree -

to disagree with the course of things today.  Nuclear power, starvation, cruelty - we

must make a statement against these things.  Vegetarianism is my statement.  And I

think it's a strong one.

Pure religion.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and

widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.     (James 1:27)

     Pure religion is one of good deeds performed, not a belief system or an organization to instil it, much less all the trappings and extraneous paraphernalia that undergird religion.  As can be seen from history, over time more and more religious organizations have come into being as old ones fractionate and new ones arise, and why not?  None of them has any more claim to sanction than does any other.  Underwriting much of this religious activity are folk afraid to stand on their two feet, afraid of unstructured freedom.  Claiming God, they follow man; they want the security of knowing what to do, without personally having to figure it out.  More than the freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ, what they want is security, even the everlasting arms of the Church.  Whereas pure religion is the Golden Rule of compassionate living, impure religion is a crutch leading to closed minds, ritualistic behavior, and blind compulsions.  Orthopraxy - i.e., right deeds, not orthodoxy - i.e., right creeds, is the true indicator of the Nazarene way.  But more than just good deeds performed, James saw humanity's potential to walk with God and to be blessed by God and ultimately to:

... receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them which love him.   (James 1.12)

Gender equality.

     As a part of the radical deconstruction of power, the status of women was raised, Jesus himself setting the tone and example through many positive female relationships.  On finding Jesus engaged in a well-side conversation with a Samaritan woman, his disciples were offended.  But what was it that was disturbing to them? that she was a woman? a Samaritan? or that she had been married five times?  Maybe it was simply that Jesus was upsetting the norms and conventions of Jewish society.  Some also were scandalized that Mary Magdalene was one of his dearest friends.

     While information is sparse regarding how the community of faith handled this issue in the days of its youth, whether it was gender inclusive or not, we know that Jesus was.  On the day of his resurrection, Jesus stood male-dominated, patrilineal Judaism on its ear by elevating the Magdalene, making her his apostle  to his

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apostles.  Jesus did not demote patrilineal Judaism but raised up matrilineal Judaism to be its complement.  When Jesus elevated the home over a public or institutional setting, one consequence was that of elevating the status of women.  The home is God's appointed place of worship, the nexus for faith, culture, and civility.  It is where friends meet, where life happens.  In the classical world, it was traditional for men to dominate in a public setting, but not so in the home.  Thus it was that a new criteria for leadership was established.  Not only to the Magdalene but to qualified women generally, Jesus opened the way whereby they could exercise moral leadership.

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect

of persons. ... But if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of

the law as transgressors.                                                                                      (James 2:1, 9)

     James' supporting example has to do with the dichotomy of rich and poor, but the underlying principle is applicable to Jewish/Gentile, male/female dichotomies or other such distinctions as would artificially limit spiritually-motivated fellowship.  In that respect, one of the few churchmen of his day to rise above the making of invidious, biological distinctions was Clement of Alexandria who about 180 AD wrote:

... men and women share equally in perfection, and are to receive the same instruction

and the same discipline.   For the name "humanity" is common to both men and women;

and for us "in Christ" is neither male nor female.

     Tertullian (c. 150-225 AD), speaking for the vast majority of his colleagues, enunciated the opposing position, one ever since upheld by the Roman Church:

It is not permitted for a women to speak in the church, nor is it permitted for her to teach,

nor to baptize, nor to offer [the Eucharist], nor to claim for herself a share in any masculine

function - least of all, in priestly office.

     Making what presumably is the biblical case, the monk, Bernard of Morlaix (mid-12th Century) said:

Because of a woman, Joseph was locked up and Samson had his hair cut off.  Reuben

got into trouble because of a woman.  So did David and Solomon, and so for the matter

of that, did Adam. ...  The sins of men are more pleasing to God than the good deeds

of a woman.    

Who had the mind of Christ in this matter?  Was it the apostle Paul (assuming it was Paul and not a 2nd Century Church editor) when he wrote: 
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Let your women keep silence in the assemblies: for it is not permitted unto them to

speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.  And

if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for

women to speak in the assembly.  What? came the word of God out from you? or

came it unto you only?  If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him

acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

                                                                                                           (I Corinthians 14:34-37)

or did the Pistas Sophia and Acts better express Christ's intentions?

Who ever the Spirit inspires is divinely ordained to speak.  (Pistas Sophia 36:71)

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues.  I will

pour out my spirit on all flesh  ... Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.  (Acts, 2)

The question arises, how did we get from all down to just some?  When it came to equality between Jewish and Gentile believers, Paul was fierce the way a mother bear is fierce in defending her cubs.  Wrote Paul:

But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be

blamed.  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when

they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the

circumcision.  And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also

was carried away with their dissimulation.  But when I saw that they walked not uprightly

according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew,

livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to

live as do the Jews?  (Galatians 2:11-14)

     The operative word above is compel, "why compellest thou?" Here Paul displays an excellent understanding of the importance of maintaining strict equality between Jews and Gentiles.  In this he is straight and true.  But, when it comes to gender equality, all of a sudden he grows squishy soft and retreats from the same standard.  Paul, why would you try to compel the ladies to be silent?  That's not right.  They have as much right to be heard as you do.  Everyone with a voice has a right to be heard.

    What! was there not anyone to withstand Paul to his face, even as he withstood Peter to his face?  If not, too bad, he could have used correcting in this matter.  A larger-than-life personality, Paul could be, unquestionably, an awkward sort of fellow to confront.  Nor is there any mistaking his misogynistic tendencies which would have unfitted him for pastoral duties had he chosen to go in that direction.  Nevertheless, if the report in Acts is to be believed, James extended to Paul the
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right hand of fellowship.  No doubt he saw Paul's good side, his deep commitment, his sincerity.  If he had reservations, and there's no record of that, he probably kept them to himself.  Nor is there any record of Paul and the Magdalene having ever met.  Had they done so, she might have set him straight on a few matters.  Whether it is Peter or Paul, just because a person happens to be an apostle or a pillar of the community, doesn't automatically make for infallibility.  That hold true for the Magdalene and James as it does for anyone else.  Everything stands or falls on its merits, not on who said it.  Test everything, eschew evil, do good.  One of the finest formulations of equality is Paul's, who wrote:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor

female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.                                                      (Galatians 4:28)

     There's one more Scriptural verse in need of consideration, that from Ephesians:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord..  For the husband is the

head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the summoned-out community: and he is the

savior of the body.  Therefore as the summoned-out community is subject unto Christ, so let

the wives be subject to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even

as Christ also loved the summoned-out community, and gave himself for it; that he might

sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to

himself a glorious, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy

and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth

his wife loveth himself.  For no man yet hated his own flesh; but nourish and cherish it, even

as the Lord the summoned-out community: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and

of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined

unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak

concerning Christ, and the summoned-out community.  Nevertheless, let every one of you in

particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

                                                                                                                            (Ephesians 5:22-33)
     With such a woman as this, with such a man as that, with such a vision as this, a great marriage can be achieved.  But one cannot extrapolate from marriage how other institutions ought to function or vice versa.  More then about marital dynamics:

... A real woman is designed to finally shed her "independence" and become one with the

man she loves.  This view is not popular because for decades feminists have taught that

women must be equal and independent. If you are happy in a feminist marriage, I

congratulate you.  But if marital happiness eludes you, consider what I have to say.  Feminism

is based on political notions that ignore and defy human nature.  Most women are passive

by nature.  They want to be possessed and used for a purpose they consent to.  I suspect that

many women want more control from their husband, not less. The feeling of "neglect" arises 
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from not being needed, sexually and otherwise.  Men have been conditioned not to lead, not

to make demands.  They are taught to be cool, laid back and have no plan.  Women lose

interest in these men.  It is about a man convincing a woman to do what he wants.  Women

are so formidable these days; men don't know how to approach them.  But the essential

relationship hasn't changed.  It is about a man convincing a woman to do what he wants.  For

course, this is easier if he wants the same thing that she does.  Generally, women want a lot

more than casual sex.  A woman shows she loves a man by obeying him.  Nothing makes a

man happier than a woman who is acquiescent.  Sexually, women are excited by male power,

men by female vulnerability. ... Sexually, women are excited by male power, men by female

vulnerability.  By equalizing power, feminism is really about neutralizing and destroying the

male-female dynamic.  It is a vicious government assault on heterosexuals.  It is about

depopulation, emasculation and alienation.  It is about banishing love from the world.  ...

Men and women have an equal right to dignity and self-fulfillment but this isn't achieved by

giving each equal power.  That often is a recipe for disaster.  Men and women find fulfillment

in marriage by becoming one spiritually.  This is the only thing that finally assuages the sexual

urge.  Spiritual union takes place through the exchange of female power for male love.  When

a wife accepts a man's marriage proposal, she gives him the power to love her.  It is a

decision she should not make lightly.  Once she has, she must be patient and have faith in

him.  That is love.  When a woman tries to take control, and tell her man how to love her,

the relationship is headed for the rocks.  I'll wager this is the main cause of marriage failure.

Power is the male principle.  Love is the female principle.  They are two sides of the same

coin, symbolized by marriage. 

  (How Marriages Go Off the Rails Musings Of An Unrepentant Heterosexual, Henry Makow)

     Going back to Genesis in chapter 2, verse 22, one finds the Hebrew word ha'-adam which can well be translated "humanity" or "humankind," for in the very next verse,the word translated "man" comes from a different Hebrew word, ish.  Once God took from Adam a rib, then the genders are differentiated, necessitating a change in terminology.  Thereafter the man becomes ish, the woman ishshah.  One could say that by creating Woman,God also created Man.  As Genesis reads: "Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh."  This expression applies to trusting soul mates, intimately joined at the rib.  This suggests that in the beginning there was equality, not dominance.  However, for argument's sake, let us agree with Paul that the woman was deceived first, not the man.  Let us further agree with Paul that sin entered the world by Adam, and that death, therefore, was passed on to all of humanity.  Specifically then, what Paul wrote was that "in Adam [not Adam and Eve] all die." (I Corinthians 15:22) and "by one man [not one man and one woman] sin entered the world." (Romans 5:12).  Accepting this implies that Adam's sin was more egregious than was Eve's but if that is so, why penalize womankind in general?
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     One theme found in the non-canonical gospels, not found in the canonicals is the jealousy that the Magdalene occasioned amongst Jesus' male disciples.  In the Berlin Museum's Gospel of Mary [Magdalene], Peter asks Mary:

Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of the women.  Tell us the

words of the Savior which you remember.

     As Peter requested, Mary provided her recollection but Peter in disbelief exclaimed:

Did he really speak privately with a woman [and] not openly with us?

     Breaking into tears, Mary then said to him:

My brother, Peter, what do you think?  Do you suppose that I thought this up myself in

my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?

     Here Levi jumps into the fray, taking Mary's side, saying:

Peter, you have always been hot-tempered.  Now I see you contending against the woman

like the adversaries.  But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her?

Surely the Savior knew her very well.  That is why he loved her more than us.       

     In the Gospel of Mary [Magdalene], Peter asked:

Did he [Jesus] really speak privately with a woman, (and) not openly to us?  Are we to turn

about and all listen to her?"

     One of the more curious documents fashioned by the institutional Church in the 2nd Century was the Apostolic Church Order, in which work some aspects of the Pauline and Petrine legacy were upheld but adjusted in such a way as to serve as a lever to dispose of other aspects of the Nazarene legacy less suited to the Church's program of male-dominance.  For instance, the apostle John is depicted here as saying:

When the Master blessed the bread and the cup and signed them with the words, "This

is my body and blood," he did not offer it to the women who are with us.  Martha said,

"He did not offer it to Mary, because he saw her laugh."  Mary said, "I no longer laugh;

he said to us before, as he taught, "Your weakness is redeemed through strength."

                                                                                                              (Apostolic Tradition 18:3)

     As portrayed here Mary fails to carry her point.  Afterwards the male disciples are alleged to have disallowed women from becoming priests.  Said Tertullian biliously:

These heretical women - how audacious they are!  They have no modesty; they are bold

enough to teach, to engage in argument, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures, and it

may be, even to baptize!                                                                (De Virginibus Velandis 9)     
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Oh, horror of horrors, even to baptize!  What will those uppity women think of next!  Evidently the idea of a woman serving in a leadership capacity was enough to send someone of Tertullian's dyspeptic disposition into a tailspin.  But on the 6th day of the Passover, while Jesus was supping with Lazarus, it was the Magdalene who:

... took a pound of greatly precious ointment, and anointed Jesus' head and feet as

he sat at the meal: and all the house was full of its sweetness. (MS 2498, ch. 81)

     By Mosaic provision, it was the High Priest's place to anoint Israel's King.  But it was the Magdalene who fulfilled this function for Jesus.  Of her anointing Jesus said:

... her deed shall be spoken of over all the world wherever the Good Tidings are

proclaimed.                                                                                        (MS 2498, ch. 81)

     That was Mary: she exemplified the towering feminine instinct to protect life, come what may, which quality I believe Jesus wanted us to see in her and the quality he wanted us to adopt without shame or apology.  Then being "woman" might not seem a reproach but a compliment.  Nevertheless, standing apart from, rejected by, and ultimately persecuted by the Church were Christian communities where women enjoyed equal standing with men.  Commenting on this phenomenon, Elaine Pagel, Professor of Religion, Princeton University, said:

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, for example, shows us a Christian community in which Mary

Magdalene is regarded as a disciple, as a leader, as one of the major teachers in the group.

And one who claims that woman should be able to teach.                             (PBS Frontline '98)

     If many of the non-canonical gospels seem more than a little fanciful, obscure, orjust plain, over-the-top farfetched, which they often do to me yet, in this instance (in the fight for gender equality), they were fighting the good fight when none else were.  It was a worthy principle which they sought to uphold and for that they should be credited though, admittedly, the Gnostics' gospels seem to take a wicked delight in tweaking the Church's nose, contradicting its imposition of a masculine hierarchy.

     A marriage of equals fosters a stereoscopic not a monoscopic perspective.  The idea of God speaking to the husband and the husband to the wife is cultish nonsense.  Yet equality of position need not mean equivalence of function.  Men be men and women, women.  It's only common sense that they take into consideration their differing capacities, natural inclinations, and aptitudes such as the male's proclivity to protect or the female's proclivity to nurture.  When couples, under God, co-operate realistically with the natural order, then a division of labor between the homemaker and breadwinner often makes sense, with the man out on the job, while the woman, the helpmate, at  home making it an inviting refuge.  But
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it's every couple's call to make their own life adjustments, not according to some preconceived notion as to what constitutes the model family, but according to their own circumstances as they perceive them to be and as need and prudence dictate.  Somewhere between chauvinism and Lilith lies a happy medium.  The way of peaceable accommodation is the way of the Nazarene.

The Magdalene was a Nazarene woman;

Where she trod impressions of spiritual beauty followed.

     It is not the Gnostic's non-canonical gospels which take the greatest liberties with the Magdalene's good name, but the Church.  For example, in Ireland, "Magdalene asylums" were established ostensibly to help rescue indigent, fallen women.  In reality they were a form of white slavery in which the hapless women who fell into their clutches were stripped not only of their infant children but, ever afterward forced to perform uncompensated, hard labor in laundries, a form of drudgery from which they could escape only by death.  For too long the Magdalene's good name has been abused by a hierarchy bent on demoting women to meanest servility.

"My Mother the Holy Ghost." (Jesus, Gospel of the Hebrews)

     Sophia, the Wisdom of God, in Greek or Hokhmah in Hebrew, is feminine and isidentified with the Ruach haKodesh, Hebrew for Holy Spirit, also feminine, but the Greek, Pneuma, is neutral, and the Latin, Spiritus, is masculine.  Thus in English"Spirit" is usually rendered as "it," as in Romans 8:26 "... the spirit itself ..."  But then complete gender reversal occurs in John 16:13:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you ...

     Rest assured, that is not the way it read on leaving the hands of its Semitic author.  Apparently between the canonical Greek text of John as we now have it and the Semitic original, there once stood a Latin text.  MS 2498, is lacking this pronoun altogether, which shows it to have been a late introduction.  Let us not lose sight of the appropriate use of the feminine, for once it is recognized as scripturally sanctioned that within the Divine nature there is a duality of capacity, male and female, then the gender issue can be approached anew.  Humanity was created in God's image male and female, because Father/Mother God, made them so.  Though largely absent in Protestantism, this Father/Mother concept is found in Catholicism, albeit modified as Father priest/Mother Mary.  Let us embrace both feminine and masculine principles, not placing one above the other, for Mary and James were not ranked one above the other but linked one to another.  Feminine "being" and masculine "doing" compliment with sensitivity and the analytical in creative balance.     

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     No discussion of power relationships would be complete without some consideration regarding how the our English Bibles have been translated.  Generally speaking folk are not aware that embedded in the very Bibles which they trustfully read are grave mistranslations, the effect of which, if not the purpose, is to perpetuate dependence on human, instead of Divine authority.  Fortunately, elementary acquaintance with the Hebrew and Greek from which they are translated can go a long way toward remedying this defect.  Compared to certain modern translations - The Living Bible, for instance, which has well merited the scholarly contempt it has received - The King James Version (KJV) is the very picture of integrity.  But on occasion even the KJV is marred by the bias of its sponsor, the Church of England.  Several examples apropos to our subject follow.     

Obey them that have the rule over you.  (Hebrews 13:17)

     With all due respect, I give this piece of advise: "Don't!"  Don't obey for obedience sake any religious Pooh Bah whatever may be his ecclesiastical affiliation or high office.  Commit neither to man nor institution but to God alone to whom alone are we accountable!  First of all forget "obey."  The underlying Greek word, peitho, means something else altogether.  As used by the author of Hebrews, it means "persuade". In fact in an earlier verse he employs the same word, peitho, and notice how the KJV translates it:

... we are persuaded [peitho] better things of you.  (Hebrews 6:9)

     Had the author of Hebrews really meant "obey" he would have used the word, hupakouo, as he did two chapters before in the sentence:

By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive as

an inheritance, obeyed [hupakouo]; ...                                                                    (Hebrews 11:8)

     And forget "rule over."  Sorry folks, it's not there.  Neither "rule" nor "over" is there.  The Greek word used is hegeomai.  It is the same word used in Luke when quoting Jesus as saying:

He who is greatest (i.e. a leader) [hegeomai] among you, let him be as the younger, and he

who governs as he who serves.                                                                                 (Luke 22:26)

     Isn't this yet another example of Jesus' anti-hierarchical imperative at work?  (A personal aside: I can not tell you how often in thirty-five years as a believer that I had quoted to me, even thrown in my face and often in dark and ominous tones:

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by Catholics, by a Jehovah Witness, by a Plymouth Brethren, by a Church of Christ, Adventists, Nazarene, Bible Church, non-denominationals, Charismatics - the list is seemingly endless - but it's always the same dreary message "obey."  Obey who?  Their organization, of course.  But the unification God seeks is not that of coercion but persuasion.  Thus  Hebrews 13:17 is more correctly translated:

Encourage those who provide leadership [hegeomai] among you ...

     Another example from Paul's letter to the Thessalonians:

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you

[proistemi] in the Lord.                                                                       (I Thessalonians 5:12)

     Again the "over you" is not there.  The underlying Greek is: proistemi, the same word as is found in Titus 3:14 where it is inculcated that we should:

... learn to maintain [proistemi] good works.

     As it turns out in this instance, it is possible to have one translation suitably fit both quotes.  It is "to care for."  Those who "labor among you" are those who "care" for you.  And so the proper translation is to "take care to learn good works."

     Putting into proper perspective the whole question of obedience, the apostle Peter and the other apostles said to the Sadducee's High Priest:

We ought to obey God rather than man.  (Acts 5:29)

     In attempting to elevate church attendance to the level of Sacred Obligation, sectaries regularly trundle out another "bugaboo" verse, this one also found in Hebrews:

Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together ...  (Hebrews 10:25)

     Scholarly opinion is divided, but this is usually taken to mean assembling for worship.  Of course, in the context of the time in which it was thought to have been written, that is, before 70 AD, there were no designated places of worship.  It could only mean a home or, conceivably, a hired hall, but this latter option is rather doubtful because faith in Jesus was not considered licit by the Roman authorities.  Either way, it is not by any means, as is so often portrayed, a clarion call to "go to church."  The situation as now pertains is that believers are offered unpalatable choices.  There is this congregation or that one, take your pick.  But you don't have to pick.  Just be 
and do in Him.  Don't join what you don't believe in; don't go except in God's will.
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     What we bring to the Bible in the way of personal experience we carry away again, only in enhanced form, as biblical instruction.  Only for those possessing broad sympathies and wide interests will the Bible ever come to life.  As Daniel 4:17 informs us, the basest of men are promoted into high office.  It's not that cream doesn't rise to the top.  It does.  It's just that scum gets there faster.  The answer is not to have any high offices.  That is the Nazarene distinctive of James and of the Magdalene who followed in the footsteps of the Master.  Frustrating is this approach to those who lust after power.
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PART V: Spiritual experience.

Jesus exemplifies Light.

There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places

and ages has had different names; it is deep and inward, confined to no form of religion

nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity.      (John Woolman)

     So inclusive was the Nazarene movement under Jesus, that it hardly fit the description of a sect.  Sects embrace only a sector of the truth, not the whole, just as partisanship embraces some part of the truth, but closes its eyes to the whole.  And this is where Jesus' teaching regarding the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing comes into play, for it is not necessary to bridge every difference or co-ordinate every action.  We are answerable to God, not each other.  From its inception, the Nazarene movement was no homogenized monolith but there were fissures not always easily bridged.  One would like to think that with Jesus' example before their eyes, with his words ringing in their ears, and with the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, that the Nazarenes would have risen above human foibles to always make correct choices but that was not so.  There was emboldenment and ennoblement for a season, yes, but that did not cure all problems or resolve all issues.  Jesus' followers were men and women of like passion as ourselves.  Putting them on a pedestal can easily become a copout, an excuse to look backwards instead of forwards, to institutionalize their memory instead of learning from their example.  Ideally the light of Jesus will shine through and there will be harmony and agreement, even as Paul admonished us:

... I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... that there be no

division among you; ...                                                                         (I Corinthians 1:10)

     Realistically, that doesn't always happen.  In fact, it rarely happens.  Ideally people will work out their differences because the Way is big enough to accommodate much variety, obviating any need to go separate ways but at Corinth Paul had to concede:

... I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.  For there must also be

heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

                                                                                                                   (I Corinthians 11:18-19)

     Far be it that factionalism should rear its ugly head, likewise partisanship, yet honest differences of opinion do occur.  Not only that, there are liable to be instances of insincerity,  yet even this is not without its value in the stark relief it creates.  No one knew this better than Paul who for one reason or another experienced many a falling out but that is the way it is.  People have to "call 'em the way they see 'em."  Afterward, sometimes, they have to part company.  Just as it's better to restrain the noble 
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it's better to restrain the noble horse than to prod the reluctant mule, so also is it better that large personalities clash than that namby-pambies agree.  Not only that, one should note the existence of a  free-floating pool of self-appointed "prophets," the world over.  Eventually, one or more of their number is liable to land on our respective doorsteps, ready to exercise his or her "God given gift" as teacher, prophet, leader, whatever.  In many instances, these are people who spent years at the feet of some religious bigshot and, having paid their dues in submission, now expect others to do likewise for them.  In such an instance, one of two things will happen: either they will be rebuffed, if not immediately, then after a period of investigation, or not.  If not, then the time is at hand to shake dust, for the Spirit lists where the Spirit will, and so must believers accordingly when a fellowship abandons its foundations.  As Paul put it:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ hath made us free and be not entangled

again with a yoke of bondage.                                                                                   (Galatians 5:1)

Two Horns.

     Out of the Nazarene movement emerged two horns, as it were, two rivals, one, the institutional Church, the other being Gnosticism.  From early times, so far as the hierarchical Church was concerned, the lines were clearly drawn: it was to be their way or the highway.  Gladly would the Church do our thinking for us, letting us know what is or is not catholic and orthodox.  On the other hand, as "an elevated being," the Gnostic, hankers for getting out on the high seas of feeling- based experience.  By splitting the difference between them and transcending them both, the Nazarene position is one which believes, as do the Gnostics, in the inner Light, i.e., experiential religion, and also, as were the Gnostics, were anti- imperialistic, but, as does the Church, associating this with Jesus and biblical revelation, which is to say, that Nazarenes did not perceive themselves as elevated in themselves but as elevated in Jesus under God.

For what the Literalist Christian says of Christ, the Gnostic is free to say of himself.  By this

they do not denigrate Jesus but they believe that they have discovered the proper dignity of

man: that a Gnostic is an elevated being.  Gnostics define Literalist believers as "hylic", that

is "material beings" who have no divine light within them.  ...  It is easy to understand why

the Church Fathers included only the narrative Gospels in the canon and rejected those

dealing with Jesus' esoteric teachings.  They wanted to create a universal church and a

religion that everybody could understand.                                                  (Gilles C. H. Nullens)

     From the quote above we get an inkling that between Gnosticism and Catholicism lies a yawning chasm with the Church offering a doctrinal and sacramental safe harbor:
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... like a rich man [depositing money] in a bank, [the apostles] placed in the church fully

everything that belongs to truth: so that everyone, whoever will, can draw from her the

water of life.  Suppose a dispute concerning some important question arises among us;

should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches, with which the apostles held

continual intercourse, and learn from them what is clear and certain in regard to the

present question?  ... that tradition, derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very

ancient, and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most

glorious apostles, Peter and Paul ... For it is necessary that every church should agree

with this church, on account of its preeminent authority.  (Irenaeus, Adversus Heraeses)

     Whereas a Gnostic tendency is to promote a rose-colored view of humanity; that it'sjust a matter of our getting in touch with our divinity, Church theologians of John Calvin's stripe (the "Pope of Geneva"), building on the foundation Augustine of Hippo laid before him, promote a dark concept accentuating human inadequacy called "total depravity."  Is there no middle ground?

Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain,

The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

                                                                (James 4:5)

     While there may be that of God in each of us, the Divine Light, it's safe to say thatwe have a responsibility to let it shine.  A balanced approach then is James' who, recognizing our being subject to contrary impulses, saw that we have an active role to play in responding to our better angels, while resisting our bad angels.  Or, as Paul wrote: "Let your moderation, i.e., your sweet reasonableness [not your extremism] beknown to all men" (Philippians 4:5).  Resisting the temptation to over simplify or distort by making it all one way or the other, let us commit ourselves to humane principles. May we not be surprised if in response that Providence is moved beyond our ability to comprehend.  As James wrote:

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown

of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.                                   (James 1:12)

     As we see below: these are James' imperatives: "lay apart," "receive," "be doers":

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness

the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be ye doers of the word, and not

hearers only, deceiving your own selves.                                                              (James 1:21-22)

     Taking hold to one side of James' equation, the Church posits sin as the problem and faith as the answer, while Gnostics posit ignorance as the problem and wisdom as the answer.  By contrast, James, ever practical, combined thought and action, holding wisdom and faith together in creative tension with good works:

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If any of you lack wisdom [sophia], let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,

and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith [pistas], nothing

wavering. ... Even so faith, if it hath not works [ergon] is dead, being alone.  

                                                                                                                           (James 1: 5,6;2:17)

     Someplace between guilt-ridden self-revulsion and self-justifying self-worship lies a happy medium a realistic, meastured self-esteem.  One extreme is that of the penitent Magdalene, passively sticking out her tongue that the male priest might place upon it the communion wafer; over against which is the Gnostic extreme, a self-assertive Magdalene on steroids, as it were, some kind of Aimee Semple McPherson, barrelling into the pulpit astride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Whereas the Church associates sexuality with Adam's fall, Gnostics of the more advanced type tended to see the Creator God as the one who fell but why must sexuality be intrinsically sinful or sacramental?  Isn't the more balanced approach that of the Nazarenes who, being blind neither to its dangers or to its pleasures, appear to have taken sexuality in stride?  After all, it's just one aspect among many necessary for keeping the race going.

     More than just the sweet bye-and-bye, there is hear-and-now experience:

The Lord is on my head like a crown, and I shall not be without Him.

They wove for me a crown of truth, and it caused Thy branches to bud in me.

For it is not like a withered crown which buddeth not.

But Thou livest upon my head, and Thou hast blossomed upon me.

Thy fruits are full-grown and perfect; they are full of Thy salvation.

                                                                                            (Odes of Solomon 1)

The Inner Light.

     Transcendent experience is an empirical reality known to many religious traditions.  In the Nazarene context this is interpreted as God immanent, the Light within.  Manifesting in various ways, this could manifest outwardly as ecstatic speech or inwardly as dreams and visions or as refinement of sensibility.  Enkindling empathy its fruits are kindness and good deeds.

     In James' Epistle, in the first chapter, one finds a cluster of richly metaphorical sayings of a mystical nature, not easily explained:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of

lights, (1:17) ... of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind

of first fruits of his creatures (1:18)  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of

naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is  able to save your

souls. (1:23) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he

being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

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     The "Father of lights" begets the "children of light," and how is this accomplished? through precept of Scripture?  Granted, this is contributing factor, yet more is implied.  Conditions must be conducive.  There must be receptiveness for these words to become engrafted within.  For instance, Peter wrote:

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which

liveth and abideth forever."                                                                                   (1 Peter 1:23)

     As Paul wrote:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; ... (Colossians 3:16)

     Or as Jesus said:

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63)

     For the implanted word to take root and bear fruit, the ground must first be properly prepared, the weeds removed, the soil plowed and tilled.  Rightly do we approach this matter with meekness:

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envies, and all evil

speakings, as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow

thereby.                                                                                                              (1 Peter 2:1-2)

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good

 conversation [conduct] his works with meekness of wisdom.                      (James 3: 13)

And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is

able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them
which are sanctified.                                                                                                                                                            (Acts 20:32)

     Realized eschatology is the concept of the entire world being subordinated to the kingdom of God.  That is yet future.  Partially realized eschatology means in the interim finding the kingdom within.  Light within, immanent, Light above, transcendent, perceive each other for the two are One.

     Beyond teacher, miracle worker, fulfiller of prophecy, on another level entirely, by a work of self-revelation, Jesus presented himself as nothing less than the light  of God.  Infuriating to his Jewish critics was his unassailable sense of mission such that no matter what happened on the earthly plane, so far as Jesus was concerned, on the heavenly plane all was secure, the power of God being over all.  Was this insouciance on Jesus' part or was it: 
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... that God sent him as light into the world ...[?]   (MS 2498, ch. 11)

     No middle ground existed.  The Jews accused Jesus of acting by the power of Beelzebub and he accused them of being the devil's children:

Now the Jews had adjudged among themselves that whoso acknowledged that Jesus was

Christ should be driven out of their synagogue.  And Jesus began to show that he was the

very light of this world and true shepherd, and that the rulers and the Pharisees were indeed

blind and thieves, manslayers who were taught by the fiend.                   (MS 2498, ch. 59)

     Jesus spoke in parables to the masses in public but gave a fuller revelation in private to his disciples:

And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but

unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables; ...                        (Mark 4:11)

Gospel of Thomas.

To James the Just, to John, and Peter, did the Lord after his resurrection impart

knowledge.  These delivered it to the rest of the Apostles, and they to the Seventy,

of whom Barnabas was one.                                                         (Clement / Eusebius)

     Although Jesus' teachings about the "mystery of the kingdom of God" were largely withheld from the New Testament, they are abundantly present in the Gospel of Thomas.  The question is: are such teachings Gnostic?  Were the Gospel of Thomas truly Gnostic, as critics allege, also as many of its friends say, then, contrary to Gnostic beliefs, why does it praise one who was overtly law-observant such as James?  By so doing, it can hardly be termed "anti-Mosaic."  Why does it not, as other Gnostic texts often do, posit a God above YHVH?  Also it lacks any reference to intermediaries: Demiurges, Plaromas, or Aeons.   In light of this some will retort, "alright it's not Gnostic, it's proto-Gnostic."  True, Gnostic writings pick up some of Thomas' sayings but, these same writings also use canonical expressions.  Does that make the canonicals proto-Gnostic?  Some say, since it was preserved among Gnostic writings, that Thomas must be Gnostic, in other words, guilty by association.  Occasionally canonical writings also turn up among those considered heretical.  This proves nothing.  If anything, the reference above advising the disciples to repair to James points  to Thomas as having been an early composition, perhaps even contemporaneous with James, when such advice could actually still have been taken.
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     Differing in emphasis from the canonicals, John and Thomas, being of an allied perspective, seem more concerned with living in the present moment than with charting past prophecies or future fulfillments.  Thus it is not a question of when the kingdom will come, but how it can be accessed right now.  As one scholar wrote:

The similarity between John and Thomas lies in their portrayal of Jesus as a fully self-

conscious sage-redeemer whose words and judgments are true and flawless.   Both gospels

claim: to understand Jesus and his words is to achieve salvation.

                                       (Alexander Mirkovic, Johannine Sayings in the Gospel of Thomas)
     Jesus said:

"Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death."

                                                                                                          (Thomas, logion 1)

     Is this promise out-of-bounds or is it in line with the one James made when he wrote:

... receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.    (James 1:21)

     Patterning their fellowship along heavenly lines, Mary and James believed in the inner kingdom, the Messiah in you, the hope of glory and that this kingdom was  accessible by prayer and supplication and by the exercise of personal responsibility.  The way of the Nazarene is not that of looking to the Universal Church but to the Universe within and above.  But if one can enter into a state of grace absent any kind of churchly intervention, the question arises, who needs the Church?  But to each their own.  On being asked "when will the kingdom come?" Jesus answered:

"It will not come by waiting for it.  It will not be a matter of saying 'Here it is' or 'There it

is.'  Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not

see it."                                                                                                               (Thomas, logion 113)

"If those who lead you say, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky

will precede you.  If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you.

When you know yourselves, then you will be known and you will understand that you

are children of the living Father.  But if you do not know yourselves then you live in

poverty, and you are the poverty."                                                           (Thomas, logion 3)

     About bearing fruit, Jesus said:

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you do not

bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

                                                                                                                     (Thomas, logion 70)     
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     In searching out the primal Source of Divine energy, seekers place their allegiance in another realm.  As Jesus said:

"If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the Kingdom." (Thomas, logion 27)

"Take heed of the Living One while you are alive, lest you die and seek to see him
and be unable to do so."                                                                  (Thomas, logion 59)

"Love your brother like your soul, guard him like pupil of your eye." (Thomas, logion 25)

"I shall choose you one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand, and they shall

stand as a single one."                                                                           (Thomas, logion 23)

"If they ask you, 'what is the sign of the Father in you,' say to them, 'It is movement

and repose.'"                                                                                          (Thomas, logion 50)

"I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand
has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind."  (Thomas, logion 17)

"Recognize what is before your face and that which is hidden from you will be revealed
to you.  For there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest, nor buried which
shall not be raised."                                                                        (Thomas, logion 5, Greek)

     Comparing canonical John and Thomas, Elaine Pagels, observed:

... what I realized as I was reading the Gospel of Thomas, is that there is teaching there,

that is shared with the author of the Gospel of John.  ...  I came to the conclusion, and

to me it was a surprise, and it was unwelcome and it seemed very strange, but I realized

that the only way one can make sense of the relationship between these Gospels is to

see that whoever wrote the Gospel of John knows the kind of teaching you find in
Thomas, and thinks that it's been taken there in the wrong direction. ... both the Gospel

of John and the Gospel of Thomas for example, speak of Jesus as the divine light of

God, and they both go back to Genesis, which says 'In the beginning God said, 'Let

there be light', and the first act of creation is one in which God calls forth the divine

light.  This is not ordinary light because there is no universe yet, but it's the divine

energy that brings the universe into being.  Both the author of the Gospel of John and

the author of the Gospel of Thomas speak of Jesus as 'The Light of the World', and

the one who pervades all things, as if he were kind of a divine being himself, because

it's not a man speaking, it's one through whom this divine light is manifest. ... Thomas

sees Jesus as also a manifestation of God, and from God.  The difference is this: the

Gospel of Thomas says 'Jesus comes forth from the divine light, speaks as the divine
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light of the Universe.  That is who he is, and the good news, the Gospel, is that you

too come from that light, and so in the Gospel of Thomas in saying 50, Jesus says

to his disciples, 'When people say to you, where do you come from, say "We come

from the light, the place where the light came in to being in the beginning."  And if they

say to you, 'Well, who are you?" Say "We are children of the light and children of the

living Father."'  And so the Gospel of Thomas suggests that all who come to recognize

this inner light come to recognize that the image of God within every human is the

light that brought us forth and brought everything into creation in the beginning.  The

Gospel of John, by contrast, says "Yes, Jesus is the light of the world, but you and I

 are not", and the good news is very different.  The good news is (and John will always

use this word) Jesus is the only begotten son of God, you are not the child of god, I

am not the child of god, only Jesus is the son of God, and the good news is, that if

you can believe in him you could be saved from sin and darkness which otherwise will

destroy you'.  (The Suppressed Christian Tradition, an interview by Rachael Kohn)

     This overstates the case on both ends, but it's worth taking note of for there 's no discounting the possibility of the Church's having tampered with John or the Gnostics'having tampered with Thomas.  Even so, in the main, they agree.

     In his book Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?, Harold Bloom, albeit falling into the common error about Thomas being Gnostic by confusing esoteric knowledge with Gnostic speculation, yet makes these trenchant observations:

If you turn to the Gospel of Thomas, you encounter a Jesus who is unsponsored and free.  No

one could be burned or even scorned in the name of this Jesus, and no one has been hurt in

any way, except perhaps for those bigots, high church or low, who may have glanced at so

permanently surprising work. ... this Jesus is a wisdom teacher, gnomic and wandering, rather

than a proclaimer of finalities.  You cannot be a minister of this gospel, nor found a church

upon it.  Everything we seek is already in our presence, and not outside ourself.  What is most

remarkable in these sayings is the repeated insistence that everything is already open to you.

You need but knock and enter.  What is best and oldest in you will respond fully to what you

allow yourself to see.  .... implied in nearly every saying: there is light in you, and that light is

not of the created world.  It is not Adamic.  ... what is best in us was never created, so cannot

fall.  The Gospel of Thomas addresses itself only to ... those capable of knowing, who then

through knowing can come to see what Jesus insists is plainly visible before them, indeed all

around them. ... . "Fortunate is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes

human.  And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion will become human."  This

hard saying of Jesus opposes two ways of becoming human, ... if the lion feasts on the

knowing part of us, then we are lost.  For the kingly lion in us knows nothing except its

projection outward of its own being as lord of creation, but what is most human in us is no

part of creation.   ... this Jesus is looking for the face he had before the world was made.
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     To this day East from Syria, round about through Persia all the way to India, the most revered apostle is Thomas who various ancient traditions credit with having  evangelized as far away as India's Malabar coast.  Analogous to the respect paid him is the respect paid Peter in the West.  Yet in Acts, except for the bare mention of his  name (1:13), Thomas receives no notice whatsoever.  How is one to account for this? For one, his sphere of activity was beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.  His absence from Acts therefore should not surprise, for a host of individuals who should be there are also absent which fits a larger pattern of excision by the Church of those who operated outside the orb of its control.

The four senses.

     Under the heading "four sense" Merriam Webster's unabridged dictionary states:

Four kinds or varieties of interpretation put upon Scripture, viz., the historical or literal,

the allegorical, the moral, and the anagogical.  Jerusalem is literally a city of Palestine,

allegorically the Church, morally the believing soul, and anagogically the heavenly

Jerusalem.                                                                                                      (2nd International)

Anagogue: 1. An elevation of mind to things celestial.  2.  The mystical or spiritual

meaning or application of words: esp., the interpretation of the Bible in the fourth, or

mystical, sense.                                                                                           (2nd International)

     The Gospel of Thomas is weighted toward the anagogical.  While we may know little enough about its history of transmission or through whose hands its text might have passed, at least it appears to have been spared the Church's tender ministrations, not that this doesn't leave open the possibility of accidental corruption by careless  scribes or, more deliberately, by sectaries with an axe to grind and for those reasons we are well-advised to proceed with caution.

     In 1887, unidentified Greek gospel texts were recovered from an ancient monastic library in Oxyrhynchus on the banks of the Nile, midway between Nag Hammadi 150 miles to the south, and Cairo 150 miles to the north.  Some scholars conjectured, correctly it turns out, that these fragments might have been part of the long-lost Gospel ofThomas spoken of in antiquity.  With the Nag Hammadi discovery, this conjecture was confirmed.  Evidently Coptic Thomas was translated from the Greek but the Greek is believed to have been derived from Aramaic, the language of Jesus.  In a fragmentary state, the Greek text has only 20 of the Coptic's 114 sayings.  One of the most questionable of these is logion 114, the last one, and it involves the Magdalene: 

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Simon Peter said to him [Jesus], "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life."

Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may

become a living spirit resembling you males.  For every woman who will make herself

male will enter into the kingdom of heaven."                                   (Thomas, logion 114)

     Frankly, I cannot square this piece of advice with what else I know about Jesus.  Asit turns out, paleographic examination of the manuscript indicates that it was added after the original composition had been completed.  Generally, however, the Coptic text contains teachings championed by James and Mary which is explanation enough as to why the Church tried to stomp it out of existence.  Said Jesus:

"There is a light within a man of light which enlightens the entire world.  If this does not

shine forth there is darkness."                                                                    (Thomas, logion 24)

     Said Helen Keller:

"I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me

is golden.  I can see a God-made world, not a man made world. ... It gives me a deep

comforting sense that 'things seen are temporal and things unseen are eternal.'"

     The Gospel of Thomas, as with the Nazarene movement generally, held to an ethical and contemplative emphasis more resembling the teachings of Pietists or Quakers or the teachings of Buddha or Lao Tsu, than it ever resembled mainstream Christianity or Talmudic Judaism.

     Having Jesus as a divine mediator who brings man and God closer together, helps open a way for those who dare to live experientially to take their cues not only from each other but from the light above and from the still, small voice within and this helps foster a rich diversity of belief and practice and yet can also foster unity in the Spirit.

Paul embraced the Light.

... there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith and was
baptized."                                                                                                                       (Acts 9:18)

     Long before there was an apostle Paul, there was Saul, the persecutor.  Like many other over-earnest youth, Paul's problem as a young man was his working overtime to get on God's good side, all the while failing to recognize that God had already come to his side.  One can hear this in the tenor of his plaintive cry:  

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The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. ... Oh, wretched

man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"   (Romans 7: 19, 24)

     If Paul was hoping to earn God's favor through zealous performance, one suspects that he was dogged by a nagging suspicion of failure.  If only on an unconscious level, he knew in many ways that he had fallen short and judged himself harshly for that and, having judged himself harshly, judged others harshly also.

     Thus, in the astringency of religious zeal, the urge to persecute emerged.  There matters might have rested unacted upon, except for the matter of the stoning of Stephen to which he was an accessory and then the Sanhedrin required his services.  Its ruling hierarchy, all too glad to bend any impulse high or low to its selfish ends, granted this all-to-religious youth letters of introduction to the leading members of  Damascus' Jewish community, authorizing them to assist him in the task of taking custody of Jewish believers in Jesus and sending them bound to Jerusalem.  But once on the road to Damascus a new dynamic entered Paul's life.  Thereafter, Paul ceased being a flunky for hierarchy men, the corrupt temple authorities.  Desisting from his judgmental way, Paul was filled by the joy of the Lord.  Thereafter threats of mayhem ceased.  He was done forever with coercion.

     Even as an artisan well effortlessly runs over, so the Light brings with it its own form of overflowing effervescence, a bracing tonic for both soul and spirit.  So far from squelching his personality, submerging it in the group, the Light liberated Paul, allowing him to act and speak with spontaneity.  Free to think his own thoughts, Paul became his own man in God.  Of the apostle Paul, Albert Schweitzer wrote:

The result of this first appearance of a great thinker in Christianity, is to establish for all

time the confidence that the Christian faith has nothing to fear from the power of thought,

even if the latter is disturbing to tranquility, is apt to provoke disputes which seem to

promise little fruit for piety ... All those who think to serve the gospel of Christ by

destroying the liberty of thinking must hide their faces from him."

                                                                                                 (The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle)       

     Regarding the apostle Paul, C. S. Lewis wrote:

I cannot be the only reader who has wondered why God, having given him so many gifts,

withheld from him (what would to us seem so necessary for the first Christian theologian) that

of lucidity and orderly exposition. ... Since this is what God has done, this we must conclude,

was best.  It may be that what we should have liked would have been fatal to us if granted.

It may be indispensable that Our Lord's teachings, by that elusiveness (to our systematizing

intellect), should demand a response from the whole man, should make it so clear that there
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is no question of learning a subject but of steeping ourselves in a Personality, acquiring a

new outlook and temper, breathing a new atmosphere, suffering Him, in His own way, to

rebuild in us the defaced image of Himself.  So in St. Paul.  Perhaps the sort of works I should

wish him to have written would have been useless.  The crabbedness, the appearance of

inconsequence and even of sophistry, the turbulent mixture of petty detail, personal

complaint, practical advice, and lyrical rapture, finally let through what matters more than

ideas -- a whole Christian life in operation -- better say, Christ Himself operating in a man's

life.                                                                                                             (Reflections on the Psalms)

A Mandaean poem.

     Incomprehensible to the world-at-large but most particularly to Christendom, is the Nazarenes' ability to embrace both particularism and universalism simultaneously, Judaism and Mandaean faith - but this they did.  The verses following convey both the flavor and seriousness of Mandaean pursuit:

In the name of the Life!

I rose up from the Jordan

And I met a group of souls,

A group of souls I met,

who surrounded our father Shitil

Saying to him

"By thy life, our father Shitil,

Go with us to the Jordan."!

"If I go with you to the Jordan

Who will be your witness?"

"Lo, Sun hath risen above us;

He will be our witness!"

"It is not he whom I seek,

Not he whom my soul desireth.

The sun of which ye spake,

Riseth early, setteth at dusk.

The sun of which ye spake,

the sun Is vanity and cometh to an end.

Sun cometh to an end and becometh vanity

And his worshippers come to an end and are vanity."

I rose up from the Jordan

And a group of souls I met,

A group I met of souls

Who surrounded our father Shitil,

Saying to him,

"By thy life, our father Shitil,

Go with us to the Jordan!"

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"If I go with you to the Jordan,

Who will be your witness?"

"Lo, Moon who shineth above us,

He will be our witness!"

"It is not he whom I seek,

Not he whom my soul desireth.

The moon, of whom ye spake,

Riseth at dusk and setteth at dawn.

The moon of which ye spake,

the moon is vanity and cometh to an end

And his worshippers come to an end and are vanity."

I rose up from the Jordan

And a group of souls I met,

A group I met of souls

Who surrounded our father Shitil,

Saying to him,

"By thy life, our father Shitil,

Go with us to the Jordan!"

"If I go with you to the Jordan

Who will be your witness?"

"Lo, there burns a fire.

It will bear witness for us."

"That is not what I seek,

Not that which my soul desireth.

the fire of which ye spake

Once a day needs a firebrand.

The fire of which ye spake --

Fire, is vanity and cometh to naught

And its worshippers come to naught and are vanity."

I rose up from the Jordan

And a group of souls I met,

I met a group of souls

Who surrounded our father Shitil,

Saying to him,

"By thy life, our father Shitil,

Go with us to the Jordan!"

"If I go with you to the Jordan,

Who will be your witness?

"The Jordan and its two banks

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Will bear witness for us;

Pihta, kushta and mambuha

Will bear witness for us;

Habshaba, (Sunday) and Kana-d-Zidqa

Will bear witness for us;

The sanctuary in which we worship

Will bear witness for us;

The alms that is in our laps

Will bear witness for us;

And our father who is our head

Will bear witness for us."

"This is that which I seek,

This is that which my soul desireth!

When I rise to the House of Life

And travel to the Everlasting Abode,

When Life questioneth me, (these) witnesses

Will come and will bear witness.

Witnesses of the truth are they,

Sure is all that they say!"

And Life is victorious!

                                             (Ginza Rba, chapter 21)      

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PART VI: Side streams.

The power of legend whether fanciful or historical.

     Let us seek the source from which the modern-day quest to locate the Magdalene's bloodline is drawn.

     From medieval times, if not earlier, the story is told of Mary Magdalene, pregnant with Jesus' daughter, as having fled to Alexandria, Egypt shortly after the crucifixion where she gave birth to a daughter, from whence some years later she and seven companions boarded a boat without oars, sails, or rudder, and set forth leaving their fate in God's hands.  Adrift upon the Mediterranean, they, like Noah, made shore a proverbial 40 days later, not on Mt Ararrat of course, but, rather, on a remote part of the Mediterranean coast, where now is located the French town, Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in English called Saint Mary's of the Sea.  There, every May, the Magdalene and her companions are honored, including her sister, Martha; her brother, Lazarus; Sara-la Kali (whom some identify as the Magdalene's and Jesus' daughter); Marie-Salome; Maximinius, the region's first bishop; and Joseph of Arimathea, reputedly the guardian of the Sangreal, the Holy Grail.  This, some have supposed was the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, later used to catch his shed blood when yet he hung on the cross but others have conjectured that it was the Magdalene herself whose womb, the vessel of life, presumably carried the divine seed.  A compound, word, Sang-, in French could be translated "sanguine," i.e., "blood" and -real, "royal," thus "Blood Royal;" alternatively, some have divided Sangreal "San Graal,"meaning "Saint (or Holy) Grail" but which is it?  We're not obligated to take sides in these disputes.  As for the Magdalene's presumptive daughter, Sara, her name in Hebrew means "Princess." She, Egyptian born as tradition would have it, her skin blackened by the sun, presumably was the model for some of the Black Madonna statuary widely found throughout Europe, but most particularly in southern France.

     Two such images of ancient provenance, one representing Mary Magdalene, and the other Sara, are carried every year by chosen men down to the sea in joyful procession either on the 21st or else on the 22nd of May, while along the way pilgrims cry forth "Vivas Saint Sara!"  Flocking annually to this celebration are bands of gypsies who take the Magdalene and Sara as their patron (matron?) saints and go into religious ecstacies should one of their babes get to touch their image, for this they believe promotes healing and protects from misfortune.

     All of this fits a pattern worldwide whereby sacred narrative plays a vital role in animating the faithful with pius hope, informing the conscience, fixing mores and customs, answering life's big questions, providing comfort.  Concurrently, a larger

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societal function is served, that of conforming and regulating society.   Generally it has been the case that the same narrative which expresses humanity's highest aspirations, has been employed by the ruling classes and their clerical cohorts to subordinate common folk to the ends of government.  Thus the inherent tension, for what conforms may well be at odds with what transforms.  But not all that is legendary is necessarily made up.  Some legends are rooted in actual events, not that separating the kernel of truth from the trimmings of superstition is easily done, especially when it comes to Christian beginnings which have been obscured, not only by the mists of time, but deliberately so by those acting with ulterior motives.  Even so, it's our privilege to grapple with these matters in attempting to distinguish fractured fairy tales from the pearl of great price.  As with Jesus and mother Mary, so also with his brother, James the Just, and his faithful follower, Mary Magdalene, as archetypal figures, all of these historical persons have been subjected to a process of embellishment but, also, on occasion a process of diminishment, depending on whose interests are at stake or what point is trying to be made.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

     The latter-day showering of attention upon Mary and James may seem a welcome development, and it's true, many who otherwise wouldn't have heard of them now  are inspired to inquire further - not that this is an unalloyed blessing, for hyping them into the stratosphere, while distorting their reputation in the process, are those whose purpose is to foist upon the world their own candidate for global dominion, namely one whose legitimacy rests on surmised blood descent from Jesus and Mary.  While this may seem a quaintly antiquated concern in our "democratic" era, still the Divine Right of Kings manages yet to resonate in select circles of privilege.

     Evidence of this abiding interest comes from the book kicking off the current Magdalene craze, Holy Blood, Holy Grail.  Published in 1982, it has proved to be the first of many, Dan Brown's celebrated Da Vinci Code being but its latest and most popular successor.  Under the sub-heading "The Hypothesis," Holy Blood, Holy Grail states:

The Magdalen had figured prominently throughout our inquiry.  According to certain

medieval legends the Magdalen brought the Holy Grail or "Bloode Royal" - into France.

The Grail is closely associated with Jesus.  And the Grail, on one level at least, relates

in some way to blood - or, more specifically, to a bloodline or lineage. ... Perhaps the

Magdalen - that elusive woman of the Gospels - was in fact Jesus' wife.  Perhaps their

union produced offspring.  After the Crucifixion perhaps the Magdalen, with at least one

child, was smuggled to Gaul - where established Jewish communities already existed

and where, in consequence, she might have found a refuge.  Perhaps there was, in short,

a hereditary bloodline descended directly from Jesus.  Perhaps this bloodline, the supreme
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sang real, then perpetuated itself, intact and incognito, for some four hundred years ...

Perhaps there were dynastic intermarriages not only with other Jewish families but with

Romans and Visigoths as well.  And perhaps in the fifth century Jesus' lineage became

allied with the royal line of the Franks, thereby engendering the Merovingian dynasty.

...  If this sketchy hypothesis was in any sense true, it would serve to explain a great

many elements in our investigation.                                                                  (pp. 313-314)

     The "perhaps"es do pile up.  I count seven.  Inasmuch as the ancient genealogical records were destroyed long ago by King Herod (an Idumaean who viewed with jaundiced eye his having a Davidic rival), constructing a plausible link back to King David is not easily done today.  Absent any real alternative, all we have to go by to establish such a link are the genealogical records of European royalty which reach back to Europe's Dark Ages but no further.  Resorting thereto, ever so engagingly, Holy Blood, Holy Grail's authors fill in the historical gaps with sound historical material, though interspersed therewith is some questionable material, especially as relates to a shadowy organization called the "Prieure de Sion," of which outfit it states:

During the nineteenth century the Prieure de Sion, working through Freemasonry and the

Hieron du Val d'Or, attempted to establish a revived and "updated" Holy Roman Empire -

a kind of theocratic United States of Europe, ruled simultaneously by the Hapsburgs and

by a radically reformed Church.  This enterprise was thwarted by the First World War and

the fall of Europe's reigning dynasties.  But it is not unreasonable to suppose that Sion's

present objectives are basically similar. ... We know that the Prieure is not a "lunatic fringe"

organization.  We know that it is well financed and includes - or at any rate, commands

sympathy from - men in responsible and influential positions in politics, economics, media,

the arts.  ... since 1956 it has increased its membership more than fourfold, as if it were

preparing for something; ...  In a very real sense the time is ripe for the Prieure to show

its hand.  The political systems and ideologies that in the early years of our century

seemed to promise so much have virtually all displayed a degree of bankruptcy.  ... There

is also, increasingly, a desire for a true leader ... a "priest-king" in whom mankind can

safely repose its trust.  ...  To a receptive audience, it might be a kind of Second Coming.

                                                                                                                                      (pp. 410-413)

     "A 'priest-king' in whom mankind can Safely repose its trust"!  "A kind of Second Coming"!  Sure sounds like an invitation to usher in the Antichrist.  Curious how the quest to find God has a way of coming full circle back to man, indeed, back to the Divine Right of Kings and away from the concept that rule is by the consent of the governed.  Let us take note, it is not just a king but a "priest- king" that is contemplated.  Jesus we know was Davidic while the Magdalene is thought to have hailed from a priestly clan.  Their alleged offspring could be seen in some sense then as representing both sacred offices.  

/ 119.
Da Vinci Code.

     Following very much in the footsteps of Holy Blood, Holy Grail is Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code.  It too gives a large role to the Priore of Zion.  Quoting  the knowledgeable Britisher Sir Leigh Teabing who was addressing, the Code, pp. 257- 258 reads:

Teabing spoke more quietly now.  "The quest for the Holy Grail is literally the quest to

kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene.  A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast

one, the lost sacred feminine.  ...  Sophie [Sophie Neveu, granddaughter of Louve curator,

Jaccques Sauniere], felt an unexpected wonder: "The hiding place of the Holy Grail is

actually ... a tomb?  ...  Teabing's hazel eyes got misty. "It is.  A tomb containing the body

of Mary Magdalene and the documents that tell the true story of her life.  At its heart, the

quest for the Holy Grail has always been a quest for the Magdalene - the wronged Queen,

entombed with proof of her family's rightful claim to power." ... Yes, but the brotherhood had

another, more important duty as well - to protect the bloodline itself.  Christ's lineage was in

perpetual danger.  The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the

secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the fundamental

Catholic doctrine - that a divine Messiah who did not consort with women or engage in

sexual union."  He paused.  "Nonetheless, Christ's line grew quietly under cover in France

until making a bold move in the fifth century, when it intermarried with French royal blood

and created a lineage known as the Merovingian bloodline." ... This news surprised Sophie.

Merovingian was a term learned by every student in France.  ... "The Merovingians founded

Paris."  ... "Yes.  That's one of the reasons the Grail quests here were in fact stealth missions

to erase members of the royal bloodline.  Have you heard of King Dagobert?"  ... Sophie

vaguely recalled the name from a grisly tale in history class.  "Dagubert was a Merovingian

king, wasn't he?  Stabbed in the eye while sleeping?" ... "Exactly.  Assassinated by the Vatican

in collusion with Pepin d'Heristal.  Late seventh century.  With Dagobert's murder, the

Merovingian blood line was almost exterminated.  Fortunately, Daobert's son, Sigisbert,

secretly escaped the attack and carried on the lineage, which later included Godefroi de

Bouillon - founder of the Priory fo Sion." ...  "The same man," Langdon [Robert Langdon,

Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University] said, "who ordered the Knights Templar

to recover the Sangreal documents from beneath Solomon's Temple and thus provide the

Merovingians proof of their hereditary ties to Jesus Christ." ... Teabing nodded, heaving a

ponderous sigh.  "The modern Priory of Sion has a momentous duty.  Theirs is a threefold

charge.  The brotherhood must protect the Sangreal documents.  They must protect the tomb

of Mary Magdalene.  And, of course, they must nurture and protect the bloodline of Christ -

those few members of the royal Merovingian bloodline who have survived into modern

times.'  The words hung in the huge space and Sophie felt an odd vibration, as if her bones

were reverberating with some new kind of truth.  Descendants of Jesus who survived into

modern times.  Her grandfather's voice again was whispering in her ear.  Princes, I must tell

you the truth about your family.
/ 120.
A chill raked her flesh.

Royal blood.

She could not imagine.

Princess Sophie.

     Yes, the "eureka!" has arrived when first it dawned on Sophie that she might be the chosen one, that is, Mary Magdalene's and Jesus' direct descent, a priestess and a princess and heir to the throne.  Dan Brown's book is more than just another rip-roaring novel; it is propaganda crafted for the cause - .that being the biggest con job in history.  Here are the names and positions of some of those who are promoting it:

Sony Corporation, the force behind the Da Vinci Code movie, is the eye of this Jewish

promotional octopus.  In the late 1980s, Sony of Japan bought out Metro Goldwyn Meyer,

Columbia Pictures, and United Artists.  Former president of Jewish-owned CBS, Howard

Stringer (a Jew), became second in command of Sony International. He is chair and CEO of

Sony of America.  Sony of America is dominated by Jewish names. Emily Susskind is

president. Robert Wiesenthal is executive VP and chief financial officer; Nicole Seligman is

executive VP and general counsel. Phil Weiser is CTO and senior VP. Michael Fidler Jr. is

senior VP. Jay Samit is general manager of Connect. Gretchen Griswold is director of Sony's

subsidiary, Columbia Pictures, maker of the Da Vinci Code movie, is headed by Amy Pascal,

a Jew.  She is also chairman of Sony's Motion Picture Group.  The producer of the film is

Brian Grazer, a Jew. The screenplay was written by well-known, Jewish screenwriter Akiva


 While originating with Sony, the Da Vinci Code's promotion is a many-pronged attack on

Christianity coming from the Jewish media community.  Sony worked closely with NBC in

promotion of NBC/Universal's anti-Christ Book of Daniel last winter. Now NBC, presided

over by its Jewish head of television programming, Jeff Zukor, has lavishly promoted Sony's

Da Vinci Code movie on NBC. This past week, Today Show host Matt Lauer led the nation

on a European "treasure hunt" in the steps of the Code. CBS, presided over by Jewish Sumner

Redstone, and ABC, by Jewish Michael Eisner, have helped build a firestorm of public

curiosity about the book and movie.

The largest Jewish publishing houses reap staggering profits from sales of Da Vinci Code

books.  Jewish Joel Klein is chairman of American operations of Bertelsmann A.G., the largest

publishing conglomerate in the world. Random House, which the Encyclopedia Judaica

confirms is Jewish-owned and controlled, is part of this consortium, benefiting by massive

distribution advantages.  Random House owns rights to produce all large-print copies of the

Da Vinci Code. As a division of Random House, Doubleday owns rights to produce all

regular-print and special collector's editions of the book.  Finally, Anchor Books, another
/ 121.
venerable Jewish publishing house and subsidiary of Random House completes this Jewish

monopoly by printing all paperback copies.

Jewish-controlled magazines also hype the Code.  Some 50 popular magazines, including

Time, Life, and People, are owned by Time/Warner, with Jewish Norman Pearlstein, editor in

chief.  Newsweek, published by Jewish Donald Graham's Washington Post, has featured

recent conspicuous articles enticing millions to purchase the book or see the movie.

Articles too numerous to mention continue to emerge from Jewish-controlled newspapers.

These include those owned by the Samuel Newhouse chain, the New York Times, the Boston

Globe, the New York Review of Books, the Village Voice, etc. All have been intensifying

interest in the Da Vinci Code's blasphemous message. The New York Times praised the book

as "impeccably researched," despite the Code's outrageous claims, including that the Roman

Catholic Church burned five million women at the stake. These media voices, which

reflected so gravely on possible anti-Semitism in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, have not

a word of concern about the Code's rabid anti-Christianity. That's because they share it.

     It is easy to anticipate a sequel to The Code will appear in the near future whenSophie (and/or her consort) is anointed and crowned in Jerusalem, after which they authorizes the construction of the tribulation temple.  

Margaret Starbird's Magdalene.

     If Mary Magdalene wrote, or else influenced the writing of, the earliest version of John's Gospel or was the leader of a Nazarene community in the Holy Land, then for  sure she had not fled to Alexandria, Egypt in order to have hers and Jesus' baby as Margaret Starbird alleges in her influential book, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar  (1993).  I do not dispute the possibility of the Magdalene's having fled to Alexandria or having ended up in the south of France at some point, but not as Starbird has it, immediately after the crucifixion.  Given the accounts that exist regarding the Magdalene's importance in the post-resurrection period, it's far more plausible that she remained in the Holy Land at least until the persecution of 42 AD, as MS 2498 relates:

And the twelfth year after the ascension of Jesus Christ, when James was beheaded,

and Peter imprisoned, then each [of the disciples] went his own way over all the world,

and preached to pagans and to Jews.  And the Holy Ghost directed them and taught

and confirmed their message through miracles which Jesus did for them.   (ch. 113)

     Confirming that there was a dispersion is James' opening statement in his epistle, addressing:

... the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.  (James 1:1)    
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     Overlooking the Nazarene dispersion of 42 AD, a few dunderheads have tried to say that James' reference above is to the dispersion of 70 AD.  Of course, were that true, since James died in 62 AD, then, obviously, it wasn't James who wrote James.   Any half-awake person might reasonably ask: why would James be addressing Jews instead of Nazarenes, when in the very next sentence James starts out saying: "My brethren"?  And if anyone would say that he meant his Jewish brethren, they need only apply to chapter 2, verse 1, where James writes:

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect

 of persons.

     His "brethren" are his fellow Nazarenes, not non-believing Jews.

     Unlike Holy Blood, Holy Grail's authors, Starbird at least has the integrity to declare that "the bloodline issue" is "basically irrelevant, except as it applies to the question of the full humanity of Jesus."  Amen and amen.  If there were a bloodline leading back to Jesus, after 2000 years it would by now be so diffused through the world's population, that any of us could claim to be one of his descendants.  We are all potentially his children, but not in terms of bloodline, rather in terms of spirituality.  Starbird's book ends on a high note, poetically quoting the Canticle of Canticles as supporting the consummation of Jesus' and Mary's marriage.  While I cannot endorse all of her lines of inquiry, including this one, to my surprise I was not offended by her positing such a match.  In Jewish belief, as in many other religious traditions, the  marital state is enveloped in an aura of sanctity.  Men and women are made complete in each other through sacred matrimony.

     In light of the historical record's silence on the matter, who's to say that Jesus and Mary tied the knot?  Who's to say they didn't?  Perhaps it's best left this way, as:

... an enduring mystery and delicious speculation.  (Jean Houston)

Robert Eisenman's James.

     Robert Eisenman's book James the Brother of Jesus made quite the sensation on first appearing in 1997.  In various ways it did for James what Holy Blood, Holy Grail did for the Magdalene - it put him on the map.    

     My problems with Eisenman's book are manifold, one being his methodology.  Instead of approaching his subject as a dispassionate scholar, or even as a passionate advocate, he approaches it as a lawyer with a brief.  Very carefully he

/ 123.
leads the reader back and forth over the same material, but in such a way as to plant his own views rather than let the reader form his own opinions.  Quotes are spoon fed in little snippets instead of in blocks, thus interfering with the reader's ability to see the larger picture.  As one reviewer, Michael Turton, wrote:

Reviewers have complained about several aspects ... Foremost is its repetitiveness and

circuity.  Eisenman is not writing a straightforward literary exposition of an idea.  Rather,

he jumps from place to place, gradually revealing the whole idea.  ... After several

hundred pages the general outlook emerges. ...  It is no exaggeration to say that it is

the most repetitive book that I have ever read.  Considerable commitment and staying

power is required.  Partly this seems to be to keep the reader apprised of the

accumulating data set, and partly it seems to be necessary to help the reader imbibe

the ATMOSPHERE of the terminology as the first century writers might have dealt with

it.  ... The level of detail is so thick, and the references are so copious, that it seems

Eisenman often loses track of the thread of an argument in his joy in ferreting out yet

another nugget from the unyielding earth of an obscure, cryptic reference.  ... there is

no denying that this is a great work in every sense of that much abused word.

     In its blizzard of repetitious detail, what I detect is not greatness but a sophisticated snow job.  On the bright side, thanks to all its sophistry, we might be jogged from complacency long enough to acquaint ourselves with the facts of the case.

     Eisenman's premise is that James and Paul were mortal foes.  By re-dating the Dead Sea Scrolls to a later period than scholars had supposed, he makes them contemporaneous with James and by reinterpreting them in such a way that James is identified as the otherwise unnamed "Teacher of Righteousness," Eisenman is then able to identify Paul as the "spouter of lies" who opposed James at every turn.  All of this is quite conjectural.  At no time do the Dead Sea Scrolls ever mention John the Baptist, James, Jesus, or Paul.  To be sure, if James and Paul were the vengeful, murderous, old codgers Eisenman makes them out to be, then Christianity isn't worth bothering with, but that's Eisenman's point, yes?  As for Jesus, in Eisenman's view, he pales to insignificance, such that we would hardly know for sure that he existed except for his having been James' brother.  As Eisenman put it:

... taking the brother relationship seriously may turn out to be one of the only

confirmations that there ever was a historical Jesus.

     The last sentence in Eisenman's great tome reads:

Who and whatever James was, so was Jesus.

     So who, in Eisenman's estimation, was James?  Apparently a rigid sectarian who wasn't merely associated with the Essenes but was their leading light.

     A scholar's scholar, Eisenman appears to have a masterful command of ancient Semitic tongues, as well as the subject at hand.  Squirreled away within his 1000 +
/ 124.
page book, albeit drenched in agglutinated sapience, are useful tidbits of information and valuable historical clues.  As for his hard-bitten, disillusioned analysis, it is not without its attraction, at least for Turton, who, despite numerous reservations, finds his arguments "completely convincing."  Speaking for myself, having read and re-read Eisenman's book, and having tagged it with so many sticky notes that it bristles like a porcupine, I know not what to make of it, except to say that I find his portrait of James and Paul unconvincing.  Instead of refuting him point-for-point, however, I invite any so inclined to read him for themselves.  To face head-on one of Christianity's more determined foes, disentangle his arguments, and expose his dubious claims is a worthy intellectual challenge well worth the candle.

The Ebionites.

     A significant part of Eisenman's case, the factual part, rests on a curious document known as the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions.  A 4th Century romance, it is recognized as having incorporated within it a valuable 2nd Century Ebionite substrate. A Nazarene offshoot that may well have been associated with or derived from the Essenes, the Ebionites were of a particularly conservative cast.  For whatever reason, whether because they were justly proud of their Jewish heritage, the Torah, or else, more likely, because they were rigidly legalistic in interpreting it, they rejected any outreach to Gentiles.  Needless to say, they were adamantly anti-Pauline.  The story of Paul attempting to murder James derives from them but, unlike Eisenman, they date this to the time before his conversion.  As was James, they were vegetarians and lived a modest lifestyle.  In Hebrew ebion means poor and could be a compliment as in Jesus'use of it in the Beatitudes regarding the "poor in spirit," that is, humble brothers, poor in this world's goods, whose reward would be in the Kingdom to come.

     To the Church Fathers, however, the term "ebion," when used with regard to the Ebionites was a pejorative.  To them, the Ebionites' adoptionist viewpoint, claiming  that God had adopted Jesus as his son at the time of Jesus' baptism, demonstrated poor intellect and poor spiritual understanding.

     On Mount Carmel the Ebionites maintained a monastic community which survived to the time of the crusades and was thought to be a continuation of Elijah's "sons of the prophets."  Then, ousted from Mount Carmel by the Latin Church, they were sent packing for Italy as mendicants.  Maybe a few of the monks harbored resentment.  Perhaps that sequence of events could explain the existence of a most peculiar document, the Gospel of Barnabas.  On the one hand, this gospel appears to have a pre-canonical, Ebionite substrate but, at the same time, it has an Islamic overlay.  In it John the Baptist disappears from view entirely while 

/ 125.
Jesus assumes the Baptist's role as forerunner, but forerunner for whom? for the Prophet to come, that Prophet being Mohammed.  Evidently someone thought it better to turn to Islam than to be co-opted by the Church.  Actually, Ebionite monotheism corresponds better with the Islamic conception of God than with Church trinitarianism.  Also they rejected the virgin birth, meaning that in their view Jesus, albeit the Messiah, was merely a man.

Enochian Judaism.

     One of Judaism's notable cleavage points is the dichotomy that exists between the Masoretic and the Septuagint texts.  Only after Qumran's Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls' texts were made public did it become apparent that behind the Greek Septuagint (LXX) was a Hebrew version from which the Greek was translated. This could have been deduced long ago because the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch agree in thousands ofplaces and how does one account for that?  Meanwhile, it has long been observed that the New Testament quotes the LXX text far more than the Masoretic text, indeed, that the LXX's influence is ubiquitous, but this was conveniently explained away as reflecting the Greek milieu in which the New Testament arose.  Behind the two texts, however, were two communities, one located in Jerusalem, and one to the north which we now call "Enochian."  It may well be that the Enochians were simply Israelites of the Northern Kingdom who did not go into Babylonian exile along with Judah but developed their own scriptural traditions in the Land.  As one scholar put it:

The strong possibility is that these anti-Jerusalem sectaries were the descendants of

the remnant of Israel of the period of the Exile.(From a monograph by Matthew Black)

     While Enochian Judaism can definitely be dated to the period after the destruction of Solomon's temple in 586 BC, its roots maybe go back much earlier to the time the Northern and Southern Kingdoms separated in Solomon's day.  Predating the Pharisee/Sadducee dichotomy, it expressed a cosmic viewpoint whose focus was on the heavenly temple.  By nature non-sectarian, it looked beyond the defective, replacement temple the exiles built on returning from Babylon.  What we're speaking of then is a priestly tradition that stood at broad variance from Jerusalem's Zadokite priesthood. Examples of Enochian literature: Ezekiel, Daniel, I Enoch, Jubilees.  From these consideration, on need no longer assume, that certain, striking similarities between Essenes and Nazarenes necessarily stemmed from direct contact but, rather, its possible that both movements had roots in Enochian circles.  When we consider Eisenman's relentless push to tie Qumran's sectarian zealots to James and yet, makes but one bare reference to Enoch in his huge tome - and none whatsoever to the community standing behind Enoch - then we realize how carefully, how lawyerly, he has steered us away from a viable alternative to his point of view.
/ 126.
A Gnostic view rebutted.

     Let us devote this chapter to a cogently argued web site, not because its views are congenial, but because they are challenging and thus worthy of consideration.  Heading therefore for www.metahistory.org. we find there (as of 02/05) an article about the Magdalene.  There, toward its beginning, under a painting of nude, intertwined lovers, is the provocative statement:

The shift from the crucifixion theme to the passion of soul-mates becomes visually

explicit in Symbolist art.  Jean Delville's "Soul Love" (1900) could be dismissed as

mystical kitsch, but it illustrates an archetypal image that lives timelessly in the human

psyche.  When Magdalene is pictured at the cross with Jesus, this image is restored

and the cross, the operative symbol of the victim archetype, loses its power.

     Summarizing this article's thesis, there is an inherent conflict between the cross of Jesus and the carnal, male/female relationship.  Ironically, the Gnostics' nemesis, the  Church, makes much the same case, a false dichotomy either way, however.  States the article:

... in the tumultuous shift of the Piscean Age, Jesus and Magdalene begin to morph

before our eyes.  Something totally unexpected now emerges.  With their roles no

longer limited to the familiar cameos of the Gospel narratives, they become defined

in terms of another myth, a myth that carries a message entirely different from the

good news of the New Testament.  ... if Jesus and Magdalene can be imagined as

Gnostic teachers who were also consorts in sacramental sex, the origins of Christianity

become eroticized.  We then face the possibility that a Pagan mystique of love could

supersede the Christian ideal.  What are the implications of this tremendous shift?

... myths are intentional in the sense that we can only realize them by participation, by

exploring and living them out deliberately, not merely by being unconscious channels

for the emotive and imaginal forces packed into them.

     Though they may be reading into it more than is really there, the article's authors seem to take comfort from the thought that Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is drawing people to the same conclusion as their own, for they assert that "The Da Vinci Code expands into the mythic dimension, the realm of archetypes, as C. G. Jung designated  it.  On this level, Jesus and Magdalene incarnate the myth of the Lovers, a sensuous archetypal image."  Distancing themselves from the theological arguments Gnostics employed in the 3rd Century as "arcane," the authors claim, instead, that their position is based on "the Sophanic vision," which, as they explain:

... presents the ultimate challenge to Christianity and its related Salvationist religions,

Judaism and Islam.  This factor is the choice of a myth for love, based on the Sophianic

vision, contrasted to a message about love that relies on a wholly different mythic 
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complex, the scapegoat or divine victim.  ... If Magdalene chooses to believe in her love

for Jesus, rather than in the salvation he might provide, then the entire meaning of

Jesus's story, the drama of the divine victim, is changed.  ...  To people who still hold

faith in Christian principles, it may come as an unpleasant surprise that Jesus Christ

considered in archetypal terms is the divine victim.  "Savior" is the preferred term, but

the savior only saves because he is a victim.  The essence of Judeo-Christian faith is

glorification of the victim.  Whoever identifies with the victim receives the effect of the

victim's sacrifice.  This proposition is perhaps the oldest formula of moral compensation

known to our species. ...  The act of cosmic love is enacted in a sadomasochistic drama.

Thus, the religion that claims to bring a message of divine love takes a man tortured on

a cross for its emblem.  And nobody blinks an eye in protest. ... Rodin's image of Christ

and the Magdalene presents the option for what might be called Erotic Christianity.  Those

who still adhere to their faith might re-imagine the Jesus story as a lover's tale without

transcendent guarantees from beyond the human realm, a story that attests to the

transcendental power of love itself.  We have barely begun to imagine how love itself

may carry  transcendent powers. ...  In the love story of Jesus and Magdalene we glimpse

a mythic image that could generate a new vision of love, that is, love that has the power

previously attributed by faith in God Almighty.  ...  As carnal lovers, Jesus and Magdalene

celebrate a sacramental bond redolent of "fragrance and wine."  At the third level of

impact the love story moves away from the redemptive magic of suffering, the trump

card of Salvationist      religion, and introduces another kind of magic: sexual-emotional

chemistry, the meltdown of Erotic fusion.  Among scholars it is a truism that Christianity

diabolized Eros and turned Pan, the orgiastic nature god, into the Devil.  It might seem

that, given the choice between      a myth that glorifies pain and suffering and one that

celebrates pleasure, humans would choose the latter.  But they don't, largely because

the option is not clearly presented (Pagan spirituality having been suppressed and

destroyed in Europe over many centuries).

     The "sacrificial victim" concept above, deemed "sadomasochistic," is contrasted unfavorably with sensual, young love.  But is this not a false dichotomy?  Real love is not based exclusively on the pleasure principle but is itself sacrificial.  Only one unacquainted with love's torments could suppose it to be all "fragrance and wine."  As differentiated from physical attraction, idealized love, be it that of a husband for a wife or wife for a husband, or a parent for a child or a child for its parents, is of the good Spirit, therefore elevating, therefore divine.  If one believes, as do some (though by no means all) Gnostics, that sacramental "Erotic Christianity" (as they so quaintly put it) is good then it's all to the good if Mary and Jesus were lovers.  But if one believes, as various theologians have, that sexuality is shameful, even repugnant, that mother Mary and Jesus were ever virgin and (for Pete's sake!) that even father Joseph was ever virgin, then it's all to the good if Mary and Jesus were never attracted to each other.  Thus, where the Magdalene is concerned, how one views
sexuality seems to color in no small part how one views her place in the scheme ofthings. 
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The Magdalene and the Media.

     To those with the biggest megaphone, namely, the Jewish mass-media (Time Warner; ABC Disney; Viacom; NBC Universal; Harper Collins; New York Times; Washington Post, Wall Street Journal; Fox Entertainment, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair,Parade, publishing firms: Random House, Knopf, Crown, Ballantine, Simon andSchuster, cable franchises, etc., goes the power to open and close the doors of popular perception.  Using this power, media-moguls have appropriated the Magdalene's good name.  Nevertheless, the still, small voice of veracity the world over witnesses that she was on the side of the oppressed, not on the side of their oppressors.

     If fair and balanced presentations of the Magdalene in the mass-media wasteland are rare or else so watered down for mass-consumption as to be banal, at least there exists  an alternative, that being the worldwide web where a veritable kaleidoscope of ideas - the good, the bad, and the ugly - are all jumbled together such that, as of April, 2005, a Google search for "Mary Magdalene" yielded 680,000 sites.  Here, at least for the time being, can be found those who attempt to ferret out the truth and to them I am much indebted.  However, because controlling eyeballs is the name of their game, it would not surprise us if someday soon the Oberschweine, the Lords of Lucre, were to find a way to clamp down on this popular source of expression too.  As James asked:

Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?  Do not they

blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?                        (James 2:6-7)

     How becoming is it to portray the Magdalene as a Rothschild egg donor when her response in life was to part with her wealth in service to Jesus, while their response all along has been to create a dragon's hoard?  Whereas in his day, Jesus whipped the money changers out of God's temple, now their moral descendants are back.  Their  energy comes not from themselves but from their ability to use wealth to manipulate religious establishments and symbols.  Thus do knaves use the Magdalene's reputation to make a trap for fools, turning what is good against what is best.  Ensuing therefore is a twilight struggle between those who would have us assimilate into a collective, global dictatorship, which we're told is futile to resist, and those who yearn to live free and be at peace with their neighbors.  An age-old controversy, it pits those for whom religion is a control mechanism for advancing high finance and empire against those who seek the direct apprehension of God in a state of equality.  A Rothschild watchword is this: "The best time to make money is when blood is running in the streets" (their own excepted); but James' watchword is this:

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If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scriptures, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as

thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced

of the law as transgressors.                                                                              (James 2:8-9)      

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PART VII: Appendices.

Appendix A: ISBE's article about James.

     Excerpted from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the following articleis a fulsome, classic statement regarding James and his epistle:
The teaching throughout is that of a lofty morality which aims at the fulfillment of the
requirements of the Mosaic law. ... The spirit of Christ is here, and there is no need to
label it.  The principles of this epistle are the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. ...
The epistle represents the idealization of Jewish legalism under the transforming influence
of the Christian motive and life.  It is not a theological discussion.  It is an ethical appeal.
It has to do with the outward life for the most part, and the life it pictures is that of a Jew
informed with the spirit of Christ.  The spirit is invisible in the epistle as in the individual
man.  It is the body which appears and the outward life with which that body has to do.  ...
The Jews familiar with the Old Testament would read this epistle and find its language
and tone that to which they were accustomed in their sacred books.  James is evidently
written by a Jew for Jews.  It is Jewish in character throughout. ... The law is not to be
spoken against nor judged, but reverently and loyally obeyed.  It is a royal law to which,
to be freely obeyed (James 2:8-12;     every loyal Jew will be subject.  It is a law of liberty
4:11). ...  The sins of the flesh are not inveighed against in the epistle, but those sins to
which the Jews were more conspicuously liable, such as the love of money and the
distinction which money may bring (James 2:2-4), worldliness and pride (James 4:4-6),
impatience and murmuring (James 5:7-11), and other sins of the temper and tongue
(James 3:1-12; 4:11-12).  ... The illustrations of faithfulness and patience and prayer are
found in Old Testament characters, in Abraham (James 2:21), Rahab (James 2:25), Job
(James 5:11), and Elijah (James 5:17-18). ...  No Old Testament lawgiver or Prophet was
more certain that he spoke the word of the Lord.  He has the vehemence of Elijah and the
assured meekness of Moses.  He has been called "the Amos of the New Testament," and
there are paragraphs which recall the very expressions used by Amos and which are full
of the same fiery eloquence and Prophetic fervor.  Both fill their writings with metaphors
drawn from the sky and the sea, from natural objects and domestic experiences.  Both
seem to be countrybred and to be in sympathy with simplicity and poverty.  Both inveigh
against the luxury and the cruelty of the idle rich, and both abhor the ceremonial and the
ritual which are substituted for individual righteousness. ...  The epistle is interested in
conduct more than in creed.  It has very little formulated theology, less than any other
epistle in the New Testament; but it insists upon practical morality throughout.  It begins 
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and it closes with an exhortation to patience and prayer.  It preaches a gospel of good
works, based upon love to God and love to man.  It demands liberty, equality, fraternity
for all.  It enjoins humility and justice and peace.  It prescribes singleness of purpose and
steadfastness of soul.  It requires obedience to the law, control of the passions, and control
vaunting tradesmen, whose lives are like vanishing vapor, stand there before the eyes of
all in Jerusalem (James 4:13-16).  The rich, whose luxuries he describes even while he
denounces their cruelties and prophesies their coming day of slaughter, are the rich who
walk the streets of his own city (James 5:1-6).  His short sentences go like shots straight
to the mark.  We feel the impact and the impress of them.  There is an energy behind them
and a reality in them that makes them live in our thought.  His abrupt questions are like
the quick interrogations of a cross- examining lawyer (James 2:4-7, 14, 16; 3:11-12; 4:1,
4-5, 12, James 4:14).  His proverbs have the intensity of the accumulated and compressed
wisdom of the ages.  They are irreducible minimums.  They are memorable sayings, treasured
in the speech of the world ever since his day. ...  James has a keen eye for illustrations.

He is not blind to the beauties and wonders of Nature.  He sees what is happening on every
hand, and he is quick to catch any homiletical suggestion it may hold.  Does he stand by
the seashore?  The surge that is driven by the wind and tossed reminds him of the man
who is unstable in all his ways, because he has no anchorage of faith, and his convictions
are like driftwood on a sea of doubt (James 1:6).  Then he notices that the great ships are
turned about by a small rudder, and he thinks how the tongue is a small member, but it
accomplishes great things (James 3:4, James 3:5).  Does he walk under the sunlight and
rejoice in it as the source of so many good and perfect gifts?  He sees in it an image of
the goodness of God that is never eclipsed and never exhausted, unvarying for evermore
(James 1:17).  He uses the natural phenomena of the land in which he lives to make his
meaning plain at every turn: the flower of the field that passes away (James 1:10-11), the
forest fire that sweeps the mountain side and like a living torch lights up the whole land
(James 3:5), the sweet and salt springs (James 3:11), the fig trees and the olive trees and
the vines (James 3:12), the seed-sowing and the fruit-bearing (James 3:18), the morning mist
immediately lost to view (James 4:14), the early and the latter rain for which the husbandman
waiteth patiently (James 5:7). ... He is constantly endowing inanimate things with living
qualities.  He represents sin as a harlot, conceiving and bringing forth death (James 1:15).
The word of truth has a like power and conceives and brings forth those who live to God's
praise (James 1:18).  Pleasures are like joyful hosts of enemies in a tournament, who deck
themselves bravely and ride forth with singing and laughter, but whose mission is to wage
war and to kill (James 4:1-2).  The laborers may be dumb in the presence of the rich because
of their dependence and their fear, but their wages, fraudulently withheld, have a tongue, 

 / 132.
and cry out to high heaven for vengeance (James 5:4).  What is friendship with the world?
It is adultery, James says (James 4:4).  The rust of unjust riches testifies against those
who have accumulated them, and then turns upon them and eats their flesh like fire (James
5:3).  James observed the man who glanced at himself in the mirror in the morning, and
saw that his face was not clean, and who went away and thought no more about it for that
whole day, and he found in him an illustration of the one who heard the word and did not
do it (James 1:23-24).  The epistle is full of these rhetorical figures, and they prove that
James was something of a poet at heart, even as Jesus was.  He writes in prose, but there
is a marked rhythm in all of his speech.  He has an ear for harmony as he has an eye for
beauty everywhere. ...  Both the substance of the teaching and the method of its presentation
remind us of the discourses of Jesus.  James says less about the Master than any other
writer in the New Testament, but his speech is more like that of the Master than the speech
of any one of them.  There are at least ten parallels to the Sermon on the Mount in this short
epistle, and for almost everything that James has to say we can recall some statement of
Jesus which might have suggested it.  When the parallels fail at any point, we are inclined
to suspect that James may be repeating some unrecorded utterance of our Lord.  He seems
absolutely faithful to his memory of his brother's teaching.  He is the servant of Jesus in all
his exhortation and persuasion. ...  Did the Master shock His disciples' faith by the loftiness
of the Christian ideal He set before them in His great sermon, "Ye therefore shall be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48)? James sets the same high standard in the
very forefront of his epistle: "Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and
entire, lacking in nothing" (James 1:4).  Did the Master say, "Ask, and it shall be given you"
(Matt. 7:7)?  James says, "If any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God ...; and it shall
be given him" (James 1:5).  Did the Master add a condition to His sweeping promise to
prayer and say, "Whosoever ... shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he
faith cometh to pass, he shall have it" (Mark 11:23)?  James hastens to add the same
condition, "Let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of
the sea driven by the wind and tossed" (James 1:6).  Did the Master close the great sermon
with His parable of the Wise Man and the Foolish Man, saying, "Every one that heareth
these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man.  And every one
that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish
man" (Matt. 7:24, 26)?  James is much concerned about wisdom, and therefore he exhorts
his readers, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves"
(James 1:22).  Had the Master declared, "If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do
them" (John 13:17)?  James echoes the thought when he says, "A doer that worketh, this
man shall be blessed in his doing" (James 1:25).  Did the Master say to the disciples,  

/ 133.
"Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20)? James has the same
sympathy with the poor, and he says, "Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose
them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he
promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5).  Did the Master inveigh against the rich, and
say, "Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.  Woe unto you,
ye that are full now! for ye shall hunger.  Woe unto you, ye that laugh now! for ye shall
mourn and weep" (Luke 6:24, Luke 6:25)? James bursts forth into the same invective and
prophesies the same sad reversal of fortune, "Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your
miseries that are coming upon you" (James 5:1).  "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and
purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter
be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness" (James 4:8-9).  Had Jesus said, "Judge
not, that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7:1)?  James repeats the exhortation, "Speak not one
against another, brethren.  He that ... judgeth his brother ... judgeth the law ... but who art
thou that judgest thy neighbor?" (James 4:11-12).  Had Jesus said, "Whosoever shall
humble himself shall be exalted" (Matt. 23:12)? We find the very words in James, "Humble
yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you" (James 4:10).  Had Jesus said,
"I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor
by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet. ...  But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay,
nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one" (Matt. 5:34-37)? Here in James
we come upon the exact parallel: "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither
by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your
nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment" (James 5:12). ...  We remember how the Master
began the Sermon on the Mount with the declaration that even those who mourned and
were persecuted and reviled and reproached were blessed, in spite of all their suffering
and trial.  Then we notice that James begins his epistle with the same paradoxical putting
of the Christian faith, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold trials" (James
1:12, the American Revised Version margin).  We remember how Jesus proceeded in His
sermon to set forth the spiritual significance and the assured permanence of the law; and
we notice that James treats the law with the same respect and puts upon it the same high
value.  He calls it "the perfect law" (James 1:25), "the royal law" (James 2:8), the "law of
liberty" (James 2:12).  We remember what Jesus said about forgiving others in order that
we ourselves may be forgiven; and we know where James got his authority for saying,
"Judgment is without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy" (James 2:13).  We remember
all that the Master said about good trees and corrupt trees being known by their fruits, "Do
men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matt. 7:16-20).  Then in the Epistle of James
we find a like question, "Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine figs?" (James

/ 134.
3:12).  We remember that the Master said, "Know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors"
(Matt. 24:33).  We are not surprised to find the statement here in James, "Behold, the judge
standeth before the doors" (James 5:9).  These reminiscences of the sayings of the Master
meet us on every page.  It may be that there are many more of them than we are able to
identify.  Their number is sufficiently large, however, to show us that James is steeped in
the truths taught by Jesus, and not only their substance but their phraseology constantly
reminds us of Him. ... They [James and Paul] both use Abraham for an example, James
of justification by works, and Paul of justification by faith.  How can that be possible?  Paul
is looking at the root; James is looking at the fruit.  Paul is talking about the beginning of
the Christian life; James is talking about its continuance and consummation.  With Paul, the
works he renounces precede faith and are dead works.  With James, the faith he denounces
is apart from works and is a dead faith.  Paul believes in the works of godliness just as
much as James.  He prays that God may establish the Thessalonians in every good work
(2 Thess. 2:17).  He writes to the Corinthians that "God is able to make all grace abound
 unto" them; that they, "having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every
good work" (2 Cor. 9:8).  He declares to the Ephesians that "we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in
them"  (Eph. 2:10).  He makes a formal statement of his faith in Romans: God "will render to
every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and
honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth,
but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon
every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and
honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek"
(Rom. 2:6-10).  This is the final justification discussed by James, and it is just as clearly a
judgment by works with Paul as with him.  On the other hand James believes in saving faith
as well as Paul.  He begins with the statement that the proving of our faith works patience
and brings perfection (James 1:3, 1:1).  He declares that the prayer of faith will bring the
coveted wisdom (James 1:6).  He describes the Christian profession as a holding "the faith of
our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory" (James 2:1).  He says that the poor as to the world
are rich in faith, and therefore heirs to the kingdom (James 2:5).  He quotes the passage
from Genesis, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness"
(Gen. 2:23), and he explicitly asserts that Abraham's "faith wrought with his works, and by
works was faith made perfect" (Gen. 2:22).  The faith mentioned in all these passages is
the faith of the professing Christian; it is not the faith which the sinner exercises in accepting
salvation.  James and Paul are at one in declaring that faith and works must go hand in hand
in the Christian life, and that in the Christian's experience both faith without works is dead 

/ 135.
and works without faith are dead works.  They both believe in faith working through love as
that which alone will avail in Christ Jesus (Gal. 5:6).  Fundamentally they agree.  Superficially
they seem to contradict each other.  That is because they are talking about different things
and using the same terms with different meanings for those terms in mind.

Appendix B.: John Calvin's take on James 3:1.

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that

we shall receive the greater condemnation. (James 3:1)

     Though never my favorite theologian, nevertheless John Calvin could be a trenchant commentator, shrewd and insightful, and on those grounds he deserves a fair hearing:

Be not many masters.  The common and almost universal interpretation of this passage is,
that the Apostle discourages the desire for the office of teaching, and for this reason, because
it is dangerous, and exposes one to a heavier judgment, in case he transgresses: and they
think that he said, Be not many masters, because there ought to have been some.  But I take
masters not to be those who performed a public duty in the Church, but such as took upon
them the right of passing judgment upon others: for such reprovers sought to be accounted as
masters of morals.  And it has a mode of speaking usual among the Greeks as well as Latins,
that they were called masters who superciliously animadverted on others.

And that he forbade them to be many, it was done for this reason, because many everywhere
did thrust in themselves; for it is, as it were, an innate disease in mankind to seek reputation
by blaming others.  And, in this respect, a twofold vice prevails - though few excel in
wisdom, yet all intrude indiscriminately into the office of masters; and then few are
influenced by a right feeling, for hypocrisy and ambition stimulate them, and not a care for
the salvation of their brethren. For it is to be observed, that James does not discourage those
brotherly admonitions, which the Spirit so often and so much recommends to us, but that
immoderate desire to condemn, which proceeds from ambition and pride, when any one'
exalts himself against his neighbor, slanders, carps, bites, and malignantly seeks for what he
may turn to a sinister purpose: for this is usually done when impertinent censors of this kind
insolently boast themselves in the work of exposing the vices of others.

From this outrage and annoyance James recalls us; and he adds a reason, because they who
are thus severe towards others shall undergo a heavier judgment: for he imposes a hard law
on himself, who tries the words and deeds of others according to the rule of extreme rigor;
/ 136.
nor does he deserve pardon, who will pardon none. This truth ought to be carefully
observed, that they who are too rigid towards their brethren, provoke against themselves the
severity of God. 

Appendix C: The Life and Deeds of James.

His family.

Then there was James, who was called the Lord's brother, for he too was named Joseph's son, ...


this [Jesus] not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, ... ?  (Mark 6:3)

And Jude, whose letter it is true is of but a few lines, yet filled with encouraging words ofheavenly

grace, said in
the preface, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James." (Origen,


John's Baptism.

Behold, the mother of the Lord and his brothers said to him [Jesus], "John the Baptist
baptizes for

the remission of sins; let us go and be baptized by him." (Gospel of the Hebrews)

The Nazarite lifestyle.

He [James] has been universally called the Just from the time of our Savior down to the present day

[c. 170 AD]. 
For many have borne the name of James; but this one was consecrated from his

mother's womb.  He drank
neither wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat meat.  No razor came near

his head, nor did he anoint himself
with oil, and he did not go to the [Roman] baths [a place of

debauchery].  (Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius)

James wore no second tunic, but used only a linen cloak, ... For it was John and James and James,

these three,
who walked in this [the Nazarite] way of life: the two sons of Zebedee and James the son

of Joseph and brother
of the Lord.     (Eusebius)

A priestly connection.

He [James] alone was allowed to enter into the Place of Holiness, for he wore not wool, butlinen.  He

 was in the
habit of entering the temple alone, and was often found upon his knees,
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interceding for the forgiveness of the people, so that his knees became callused as a camel's, by

reason of his constant kneeling in worship of God and asking forgiveness for the people. 

(Hegesippus / Eusebius)

He [James] alone enjoyed the privilege of entering the holy of holies, since, indeed, he did not wear

woolen, but only linen clothes, and went into the Temple alone and prayed on behalf of the People,

so that his knees were reputed to have acquired the callousness of a camel's knees.   (Jerome)

But we find that he [James] also exercised the Priesthood according to the ancient Priesthood. ...  To

James alone was it permitted to enter the Holy of Holies once a year, because he was a Nazarite and

connected to the priesthood. ... Many before me have reported this of him -- Eusebius, Clement and

others.  He was also allowed to wear the [priestly] mitre on his head as the aforementioned

trustworthy persons have testified in the same historical writings.   (Epiphanius)


Because of his exceedingly great Justice, he was called the Just [Dikaios] and Oblias, which signifies

in Greek, "Bulwark of the People" and "Righteous" [Dikaiosune], in accordance with what the

prophets declare concerning him.  (Hegesippus / Eusebius)

And once during a drought, he lifted his hands to Heaven and prayed, and at once Heaven sent rain

... Thus they no longer called him by his name, but his name was rather, "the Just One."


The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you will leave us.  Who then will become our leader?" 

Jesus said unto them, "Whithersoever you are come, repair to James the righteous [for unto the

righteous] were heaven and earth created."  (Gospel of Thomas, Logion 12)

Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to James.

... He [Christ] was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that over five hundred brethren at

once, ... After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.    (I Corinthians 15:5, 6, 7)

Now the Lord, after he had given his linen clothes to the Servant of the Priest, went to James and

appeared to him.  For James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he

drank the Cup of the Lord until he should see him risen again from the dead.  The Lord said, "Bring

a table and bread."  He took the bread, blessed it, and breaking it, gave it to James the Just, saying to

him, "My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from among those that sleep." (The

Gospel of the Hebrews
as quoted by Jerome; Of Illustrious men 2)   

/ 138.
To James the Just, to John, and Peter, did the Lord after his resurrection impart knowledge.  These

delivered it to the rest of the Apostles, and they to the Seventy, of whom Barnabas was one.

(Clement / Eusebius)

Living in community in Jerusalem.

This James, therefore, whom the ancients, on account of the excellence of his virtue, surnamed the

Just, was the first that received the oversight of the summoned-out community at Jerusalem.  But

Clement, in the sixth book of his Institutions, represents it thus: "Peter, and James [son ofZebedee],

and John after the ascension of our Savior, though they had been preferred by ourLord, did not

contend for the honor, but chose James the Just as overseer in Jerusalem."   (Eusebius)

Neither was there any among them who lacked: for as many  as were possessors of lands or houses

 sold them, and brought the price of the things that were sold and laid them down at the apostles'

feet: and distribution was made to every man according to his need.  (Acts 4:35)

Of Peter's miraculous release from prison.

[Said Peter] Go show these things [regarding the circumstances of his release] to James and the

brethren. (Acts 12:17)

James and Paul.

Then after three years I [Paul] went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 

But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.    ... Then after fourteen years, I

went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas ... And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto

them that Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of

reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.    ... And when James, Cephas, and

John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and

Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the

circumcision.  Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was

forward to do.  (Galatians 1:18-19; 2:9-10)
/ 139.
 James' counsel in the matter of obliging Gentile believers to Mosaic observance.

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Except you are circumcised

according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."  Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no

small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others

of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

So, being sent on their way by the summoned-out community, they passed through both Phoenicia

and Samaria, reporting the conversation of the Gentiles; and they brought great joy to all the


And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the summoned-out assembly and

the apostles and the elders; and they rehearsed all that God had done with them.  But some of the

party of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to

charge them to keep the law of Moses."   

And the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter and when there had been much

dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God

chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of good tidings and believe.  So

God who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,

and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.  Now therefore why do

you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our forefathers nor we were

able to bear?  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the

same manner as they."

Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles

and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.    And after they had become

silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the

first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.  And to this the words of the

prophets agree, just as it is written: 'After this I will returnand will rebuild the tabernacle of David,

which has fallen down: I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up: so that the rest of mankind may

seek the LORD.  Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,'  So says the LORD who made

these things known from the beginning of the world.  Therefore I judge that we should not trouble

those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from

things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.  For Moses

has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the

synagogues every Sabbath." 

/ 140.
Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole assembly, to send chosen men of their own

company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas and Silas,

leading men among the brethren.   (Acts 15:1-22)

Concerning a false rumor: James' advice to Paul.

And when we [Luke, Paul, and others] had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.  On

the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.  When he had

greeted them, he rehearsed one by one those things which God had done among the Gentiles

through his ministry.    And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord.  And they said to him, "You

see, brother, how  many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for

the law; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the

Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk

according to the customs.  What then?  The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that

you have come.  Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow.  Take

them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that

all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that

you yourself also walk orderly and keep the Law.  But as touching the Gentiles who believe, we have

written and decided that you should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves

from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality"

Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the Temple to

announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for

each one of them.  (Acts 21: 17-26)

The circumstances surrounding James' martyrdom.

The younger Ananus, who as we have said, had been appointed the High Priest, was of a rash temper

and highly insolent.  He was also of the party of the Sadducees, who were of all Jews most

uncompromising, as we have observed, in executing judgment.  Possessed with such a character,

Ananus thought that he had a favorable opportunity because Festus was dead and Albinus [the

/ 141.
replacement procurator] was on the way.  And so he convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and

brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who
was called the Christ.  (Josephus

/ Eusebius)

Josephus also in the 20th book of his Antiquities and Clement in the 7th of his Outlines mention

that on the
death of Festus who reigned on over Judaea, Albinus was sent by Nero as his successor. 

Before he had reached
the province, Ananus the high priest, the youthful son of Ananus of the

priestly class, taking advantage of the
state of anarchy assembled a council and publicly tried to force

James to deny that Christ is the Son of God.     

When he refused, Ananus ordered him to be stoned.  Cast down from the pinnacle of the temple, his

broken, but still half alive, and raising his hands to heaven, he said, "Lord, forgive them for they

know not what
they do."  Then struck on the head by the club of a laundryman, such a club as

laundrymen are accustomed to
beat out clothes with, he died.  James was buried near the temple

from which he had been cast down.  His
tombstone with its inscription was well known until the

siege of Titus and the end of Hadrian's reign.  Some of
our writers think he was buried on the Mount

of Olives, but they are mistaken.  (Jerome)

So when many even of the ruling class believed [that Jesus was the Messiah], there was a 

commotion among
the Jews, and scribes, and Pharisees, who said: "A little more and we shall have

all the people looking for Jesus
as the Messiah."  They came, therefore, in a body to James, and said:

"We beseech you, restrain the people: for
they are gone astray in their opinions about Jesus as if he

were the Christ.  We entreat you to persuade all who
have come hither for the day of the Passover,

concerning Jesus.  For we all accept what you say, as do all the
people; since we, as well as all the

people, bear you testimony that you are just, and show partiality to none.

Therefore persuade the people not to entertain erroneous opinions concerning Jesus: for all the

people, and we
also accept what you say.  Therefore take your stand upon the pinnacle of the Temple

that you may be clearly
visible on high and your words readily audible to the entire gathering, for

because of the Passover all the tribes
have gathered together and numbers of Gentiles too."  So the

aforesaid Scribes and the Pharisees made James
stand on the Temple parapet and shouting to him,

cried out, "O Just One, whose word we all ought to obey,
since  the people are led astray after Jesus,

who was crucified, tell us what is meant by 'the door of Jesus?'"   

And he answered shouting out loudly, "Why do you ask me concerning the Son of Man?  He is now

sitting in
Heaven at the right hand of the Great Power and he will come on the clouds of Heaven?" 

Many were
convinced by these words and gloried in James' testimony, and cried forth, "Hosanna to

the Son of David." 

/ 142.
Then again the Pharisees and scribes said to each other, "We erred in providing Jesus with such

testimony, but let us go up and cast him down, so they -- the people -- will be frightened and

not believe in him." And they cried out saying "Oh!  Oh!  Even the Just One has gone astray!" --

fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: "'Let us remove the Just One, for he is unprofitable to us.' 

Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their works."   So they went out and cast down the Just One,

saying to one another, "Let us stone James theJust," and they began to stone him, since he had

survived the fall.  But he turned and fell to his knees, saying, "I beseech You, O Lord God and

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."    While thus they were stoning him, one of

the Priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabites, spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet, cried

out, saying, "Stop what you are doing, the Just One is praying for you."  And one among them, who

was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the Just One on the head.   

Thus, he suffered martyrdom, and they buried him on the spot by the temple, and his monumentis

still there by the temple.    (Hegesippus)

Thus, even Simeon bar Cleophas, his cousin, who was standing not far away, said, "Stop, why are you

stoning the Just One?  Behold, he is praying the most wonderful prayers for you."  (Jerome)

Unable to endure any longer the testimony of the man, who through a lifetime of ascetic observance

and piety was deemed by all men to be the most righteous, they slew him, using anarchy as an

opportunity for power, since at that time Festus [Procurator 60-62] had died in Judea, leaving the

province without governor or procurator. ...  (Clement, quoted by Eusebius)

After James' martyrdom, the circumstances leading to the siege and fall of Jerusalem  Vespasian,

who gained distinction in the campaigns against the Jews, was proclaimed sovereignin Judea and

received the title of Emperor from the armies there.  Setting out immediately, therefore, for Rome,

he entrusted the conduct of the war against the Jews to his son Titus.
/ 143.
But the people of the community in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation vouchsafed  to

men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea

[Transjordan] called Pella.     

And so great a reputation for Righteousness did this James have, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote

Antiquities of the Jews in twenty volumes, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people

suffered so great
misfortunes that even the Temple was razed to the ground, said that these things

happened to them in
accordance with God's wrath for that which they did against James the brother

of Jesus who is called the

And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Messiah, yet he gave testimony

that the
righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had

suffered these things
because of James.  He ought to have said that the plot against Jesus was the

reason why these catastrophes came
upon the people, because they had killed the prophesied

Messiah; however, though unconscious of it, he is not
far from the truth when hesays that these

disasters befell the Jews to avenge James the Just for having put him
to death, although he was a man

of preeminent righteousness.  (Origen)

This same Josephus records the tradition that James was of such great Holiness and reputation

among the
people that the fall of Jerusalem was attributed to his death; ...  (Jerome)

So admirable a man, indeed, was James, and so celebrated among all for his Righteousness, that even

the wiser
part of the Jews were of the opinion that this was the cause of the immediate siege of

Jerusalem, which
happened to them for no other reason than the crimes against him.   (Eusebius)

James' successor, Symeon.

After the martyrdom of James the Just on the same charge as the Lord, his paternal uncle's child

Symeon the
son of Clopas is next made overseer, who was put forward by all as the second

insuccession, being the Lord's
cousin.  (Hegessipus)

... it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together

from all
direction with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of

them were still
alive) to take council as to who was worthy to succeed James.  They all with one

consent pronounced Symeon. 
/ 144.
... it might be safely reasonably assumed that Symeon was one of those who saw and heard the Lord,

judging from the length of his life, and from the fact that the Gospel makes mention of Mary, the

wife of Clopas, who was the father of Symeon,   ... Under the emperor whose times we are now

recording [Trajan], a persecution was stirred up against us in certain cities in consequence of a

popular uprising.  Certain of these heretics brought accusation against Symeon, the son of Clopas, on

the ground that he was a son of David and a Christian; and thus he suffered martyrdom at the age of

one hundred and twenty years, while Trajan was emperor and Atticus governor.  ... he was tortured

in various ways for many days, and astonished even the judge himself and his attendants in the

highest degree, and finally he suffered a death similar to that of our Lord.   (Hegesippus / Eusebius)

Symeon's successor, Justus.

But when Symeon also had died in the manner described, a certain Jew by the name of Justus

succeeded to the seat of oversight in Jerusalem [98 AD?].  He was one of many thousands of the

circumcision who at that time believed in Christ.  (Eusebius)

Continuity of witness.

But when this same Domitian had commanded that the descendants of David should be slain, an

ancient tradition says that some of the heretics brought accusation against the descendants of Jude

(said to have been a brother of the Saviour according to the flesh), on the ground that they were of

the lineage of David and were related to Christ himself.  Hegesippus relates these facts in the

following words. "Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is

said to have been the Lord's brother according to the flesh.Information was given that they belonged

to the family of David, and they were brought tothe Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus.  For

Domitian feared the coming of Christ as Herod had also feared it.  And he asked them if they were

descendants of David, and they confessed that  they were. Then he asked them how much property

they had, or how much money they owned.  And both of them answered that they had only nine

thousand denarii, half of which belonged to each of them; and this property did not consist of silver,

but of a piece of land which containedonly thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes

and supported themselves by their own labor."  Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the

hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as

evidence of their own labor.  And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what
/ 145.
sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an

earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when

he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his

works.  Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of

no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the summoned-out

community.  But when they were released they led the communities, because they were witnesses

and were also relatives of the Lord.  And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan. 

... until the siege of the Jews, which took place under Adrian [132-135 AD],  there were fifteen

overseers ... , all of whom were said to be of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of

Christ in purity, so that they were approved by those who were able to judge of such matters, and

were deemed worthy of oversight.  For their whole community consisted thenof believing Hebrews

who continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at that time; in which

siege the Jews, having again rebelled against the Romans, were conquered after severe battles.  But

since the oversight of the circumcision ceased at this time, it is proper to give here a list of their

names from the beginning.  The first then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second

Symeon; the third, Justus; the forth Zacchaeus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh,

John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh Justus; the twelfth,

Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas.  These are the

overseers of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them

belonging to the circumcision.*  (Eusebius)

*[Disputable is Eusebius' claim that these were successive monarchal bishops as would have been

the case in his own day in a Gentile Church setting but, rather, elders of a deliberative, community body.]

The final struggle.

For in the late Jewish war Bar Kochba, [his name signifying 'son of a Star'] the leader of the Jewish

rebellion, commanded that Christians alone should be visited with terrible punishments unless they

would deny and blaspheme Jesus Christ.  (Hegesippus)

As the rebellion of the Jews at this time grew much more serious, Rufus, governor of Judea, after an

auxiliary force had been sent him by the emperor, using their madness as a pretext, proceeded

against them without mercy, and destroyed indiscriminately thousands of men and women and

/ 146.
children.  The war raged most fiercely in the eighteenth year of Adrian at the city of Bithara, which

was a very secure fortress, situated not far from Jerusalem.  When the siege had lasted a long time,

and the rebels had been driven to the last extremity by hunger and thirst, and the instigator of the

rebellion had suffered his just punishment, the whole nation was prohibited from this time on by a

decree, and by the commands of Adrian, from ever going up to the country about Jerusalem.  For the

emperor gave orders that they should not even see from a distance the land of their fathers.  Such is

the account of Aristo of Pella.  And thus, when the city had been emptied of the Jewish nation and

had suffered the total destruction of its ancient inhabitants, it was colonized by a different race, and

the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name and was called Aelia, in honor of the

emperor Aelius Adrian.  And the church there was now composed of Gentiles, the first one to

assume the government of it after the oversight of the circumcision was Marcus.  (Eusbius)

Until then, the community remained as a virgin, pure and uncorrupt  ... but when the sacred band of

Apostles and the generation of those who with their own ears had been privileged to hear the Divine

wisdom, in diverse ways had passed from the scene, then impious error arose through the folly of

false teachers who, seeing that none of the apostles were left alive, shamefacedly proclaimed, in

opposition to the preaching of the truth, "knowledge which is falsely so-called."   (Hegesippus) 

/ 147.
PART VIII: Bibliography.

Abegg, Martin, Jr., Flint, Peter, and Ulrich, Eugene, translators, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into Englishxxii + 649 pp. Harper Collins, 1999.

Antonacci, Mark, The Resurrection of the Shroudviii + 328 pp.  2000.

Baarda, Tjitze, Essays on the Diatessaron. 314 pp. Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1994.

Bauckham, Richard, James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage, x + 246 pp.  Routledge, 1999.

Black, Matthew, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts. 400 pp. 1st edition, 1946, 3rd edition, 1967. 

Boccaccini, Gabriele, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism. xxii + 230 pp., Eerdmans, 1998.

Brown, Raymond E., The Community of the Beloved Disciple.  204 pp.  Paulist Press, 1979.

Burkitt, F. Crawford, Evangelion da-Mepharreshe.  2 volumes.  556 pp. + 322 pp.  Syriac text of the Curetonian version of the Old Syriac, with variants of the Scianatic palmiset; commentary and translation, 1904.

Burkitt, F. Crawford, Christian Beginnings.  University of London Press, 1924. 
Cahill, Thomas, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.  Doubleday, 1996. 

Charles, R. H., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John: with Introduction, Notes, and Indices also the Greek Text and English Translation. 2 volumes, cxcii + 373 pp.; viii + 497 pp., 1920. 

Chase, F. H., The Old Syriac Element in the Text of Codex Bezae.  xiii + 160 pp., 1893.  Reprinted by Gorgias Press, 2004.

Chase, F. H., The Syro-Latin Text of the Gospels.  London, 1895. x + 148 pp.  Reprinted by Gorgias Press, 2004.

Cruse, Christian Frederick, translator, The  Ecclesiastical History of Eusbius Pamphilus: Bishop of Cesarea, in Palestine. xxxviii + 480 pp. Reprint by Baker Books.

Cumont, Franz, The Mysteries of Mithrax, x + 239 pp. Translated from the 2nd revised French edition, 1903.  Dover repub., 1956.

Cumont, Franz, Oriental Religions in Roman Paganismiv + xxvi, 298 pp. 1st edition in English 1911. Dover edition, 1956. 

Dart, John, The Laughing Savior, The Discovery and Significance of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Library, 154 pp. Harper & Row, 1976.  

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Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament xiii + 314 pp. Oxford University Press, 1993.

Gaffney, Mark H., Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes: The Initiatory Teachings of the Last Supper. 304 pp. Inner Traditions, 2004.

Gibbon, Edward, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (7 vols).  3500 pp. Methun Edition, 1909.

Girard, Rene, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World.  469 pp.  Stanford University Press, 1987.

Girard, Rene, Sacred Violence, 1972 in French; English publication, 1977. 

Groates, Margory editor, The Pepysian Gospel Harmony.  Originally published by the Early English Text Society, 1922.  Republished by the same in 2002.  Previously republished by Kraus Reprint Co., 1987.

Hardinge, Leslie, The Celtic Church in Britain, SPCK, 265 pp. 1973. 

Harris, James Rendel, Testimonies.  Part I, 1916, part II, 1920, 137 pp. + 150 pp. Cambridge University Press.   

Harris, James Rendel,
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Harris, James Rendel, A Popular Accountof the Newly-Recovered Gospel of Peter, viii + 97 pp. Hodder & Stoughton, 1893.

Haskins, Susan, Mary Magdalen: Myth andMetaphor.  518 pp. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

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Hislop, Alexander, The Two Babylons, or Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife. xxii + 330 pp. Loizeaux Brothers, 1916.

Howard, George, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. 240 pp. Mercer University Press, 1995.

Kiraz, George Anton, Comparative Edition of the Syriac Gospels: Aligning the Sinaiticus, Curitonianus, Peshita and Harklian  Versions. 4 vols.  xciv + 454 
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Kuchinsky, Yuri, The Magdalene Gospel: a Journey Behind the New Testament.  488 pp. Roots Publishing, Toronto, 2002.

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Lewis, C. S., Reflections on the Psalms. 151 pp.  Geoffrey Bles, London, 1958.

McLay, Timothy R., The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research.  224 pp.  Eerdmans. 

Mead, G. R. S., Fragments of a Faith forgotten, The Gnostics, a contribution to the study of the origins of Christianitylxvii + 633 pp
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Olms, Hildesheim G., Die Iroschottische Missionskirche Des Sechsten, Siebenten Und Achten Jahrhunderts, und ihre Verbreitung auf dem Festland; 1971 (reprint of the Gutersloh edition. 1873)

Pagels, Elaine, The Gnostic Gospels: A New Account of the Origins of Christianity, xxxvi, 182 pp. Random House, 1979.

Painter, John, Just James: the Brother of Jesus in History and Traditionxiv + 326 pp. Fortress Press, 1999. 

Petersen, William L., Tatian's Diatessaron: its Creation, Dissemination, Significance, and History in Scholarship. 555 pp. Brill, 1994.

Petersen, William, Vos, Johan S., and de Jonge, Henk J., editors, Sayings of Jesus: Canonical and Non-Canonical: essays in honor of Tjitze Baarda. 344 pp. Brill, 1997. 

Starbird, Margaret, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalene and the  Holy Grail. 199 pp. 1993.

Urquhart, Gordon, The Pope's Armada: Unlocking the Secrets of Mysterious and Powerful New Sects in the Church.  x + 480 pp. Prometheus Books, 1999.

van de Sandt, Huub and Flusser, David, The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity.  xviii + 431 pp.  Fortress Press, 2002.

Van de Weyer, Robert, Celtic Fire: The Passionate Religious Vision of Ancient Britain and Ireland.  248 pp.,  Doubleday,1990.

Walker, Benjamin, Gnosticism Its History and Influence. A concise survey of Gnostic thought from its pre-Christian origins to its modern manifestations.  224 pp.  Crucible / Aquarian Press, 1983.

Warraq, Ibn, What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, & Commentary.  782 pp. Prometheus Books, 2002. 

Weston, Jesse L., From Ritual to Romance.  xvi + 202 pp. Cambridge University Press, 1920.  Dover republication, 1997. 

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Young, Brad H., The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation. xv + 332 pp.  Hendrickson Publishers, 1998.