Chapter Twenty Six

                           JAMES AND JOHN

       While Paul lay imprisoned in Rome, events were occurring in the Holy
Land that would affect the course of Jewish and Christian history. We have
seen that Jesus appointed Peter to be his chief leiutenant at the incident
at Caesarea Phillippi when Peter became the first disciple to publicly
assert his belief in Jesus as the messiah. At that time, Jesus employed a
pun using Peter's nickname of Cephas or "rock". He named Peter to be the
rock upon which his (Jesus') church, or organization, was to be built.
Jesus was also known to have had special affection for the sons of Zebedee,
James and John, especially the latter who became known in later Christian
tradition as John the Beloved (Disciple).

       It would therefore be reasonable to assume that upon the death of
Jesus, these three would assume control of the Nazarene movement, once it
became apparent that the disciple association would not disappear but
rather would crystalize and become stronger, gaining many adherents. Quite
probably they did rise immediately to leadership, becoming the original
"Pillars of the Church". Add to this the antipathy that Jesus' own family
supposedly evidenced toward each other:

     "There came then his brethren and his mother, and standing
      without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat
      about him, and they said unto him, Behold thy mother and thy
      brethren without seek thee. And he answered them, saying, Who
      is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them
      which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
      For whosoever shall do the will of G-d, the same is my brother,
      and my sister, and mother."
                        Mark 3:31-35

       There is also the incident in which Jesus' family, hearing address
the multitudes, reportedly told people that Jesus was "beside himself",
that is, mad.

       Of course, we also learn that among Jesus' followers numbered
several of his own first cousins, namely, James, the son of Alphaeus,
Matthew, and Thaddaeus. If indeed, the gospels themselves tell us of the
original genuine tradition that there were cousins who followed Jesus, are
we to believe that his immediate family rejected him as a religious figure,
or are we to simply realize that this so-called antipathy between Jesus and
his family was no more than the gospel writers' attempt to manufacture a
further alienation between Jesus and his people? I prefer the latter
assumption out of simple logic. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that
Jesus' siblings also followed him as did his cousins but that they were
originally more passive than the cousins. Jesus was looked upon as the King
of Israel by his disciples, and at his death, they naturally would look to
the "royal family" for a temporary successor or regent to sit on Jesus'
"throne" while he was absent from them. That being so, it would be natural
for them to make overtures to his brother James to assume leadership of the
movement. Peter and the sons of Zebedee would indeed also be leaders but
now they would become James' lieutenants as they had been Jesus'. Peter, as
the" rock" of the new movement, would be the active leader along with
Zebedee's boys, but James would quietly rule the "kingdom". It was his
right, his KAVOD, his honor as brother to the King-messiah.

       The author of Acts does not wish his readers to be aware of the
close connection between Jesus and his own family since then he would also
have to address the close connection between Jesus and the more militant
among his people, especially the Galileans, and ultimately what the real
original nature of Nazarenism was. Luke must have known the facts as they
were and could easily have described the facts leading up to James'
"enthronement" and Peter's subordination, but passes over this and simply
presents the situation as already existing, that is, James, the "brother of
the lord", Peter the "rock", and John the Beloved as heads of an
established Church at Jerusalem, soon to become the Mother Church of an
expanding messianic empire, an empire of which, in the end, ironically,
they would lose all control.

       As we have seen earlier, James the son of Zebedee was slain by
Agippa I for some unknown offense, probably some act of militant messianism
that was construed as a threat by the the King, possibly a public
denunciation of Agrippa's own rule as king when Jesus was the real Jewish

       Peter also came under the eye of the Sadducees as a dangerous
criminal, was imprisoned, escaped, and thereafter had to leave Jerusalem to
depart to "another place", and finally wound up in Rome as the probable
founder of the church in the Imperial City. After all, the Roman Catholic
faith insists that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, something that must
have had a real historical basis. That meant, that by the year 62 CE, only
James and John remained at Jerusalem as the leaders of the Nazarenes, along
with the "elders."

       Josephus tells us that the people of Jerusalem loved James, and that
they gave him the appellation, James the Just (Yakov ha-TSADIK), not only
because he was scrupulous in his observance of the Torah but because he had
a genuine love for the Jewish people and manifested it in his life.
Further, we are informed that not only the downtrodden classes and the
Zealots felt close to him but that he was admired very much by the

       It therefore came as a shock to the people when, in the year 62 CE,
James was brought up on charges of breaking the Law by the High Priest
Ananus. Josephus is not clear on the exact nature of the charge but he
reports that Ananus managed to have James stoned to death. Based upon what
we know of James, it is safe to assume that the charge, whatever its
nature, was entire trumped up, and that the legal proceedings were not
quite as they should have been. Jospehus reports that Ananus was accused by
the Pharisees of convening the Sanhedrin in an improper manner and that
they (the Pharisees) reported his actions to King Agrippa. In fact, the
Pharisees were so outraged at the murder of the TSADIK that they did
something ordinarily done by them. They sent a delegation to the new Roman
governor to complain to him of the incident. Josephus also informs us that
Ananus felt free to carry out the execution of James because Festus had
died and the new governor Albinus had not yet reached Jerusalem. When the
deputation of Pharisees met him on route and explained that a righteous
man, loved by all, had been mercilessly murdered by Ananus, Albinus became
so enraged that he sent Ananus a strongly worded warning against ever doing
such a thing again. But Albinus' warning was not necessary. King Agrippa,
when informned of the crime, immediately had Ananus removed from the High
Priesthood and replaced by another.

       There is extant another version of the story of the death of the
TSADIK, a Christian version told by the Church father Hegesippus and quoted
by the third century historian of the Roman Catholic Church, Eusebius. This
one I believe to be historically less accurate than that told by Josephus,
yet I relate it in order to point out classical Chritsianity's view of
James and the relationship between his death and later events in Jewish

       According to Hegesippus, James was asked by "certain Jewish
heretics": 'Tell us, what is the door of Jesus'? James replied that Jesus
was the messiah who offered salvation to the world. These heretics then
became agitated at this reply and ordered James to disuade the people from
believing in Jesus. They thereby grabbed hold of James and brought him up
to "a high wall of the Temple" where they again asked him to explain the
expression, "the door of Jesus". James, seeing their mocking attitude,
replied to them, "Why do you ask me regarding the Son of Man?" At which
point, they flung him from the wall so that he fell and was mortally
wounded. While he lay there dying, he said a prayer for the people. One of
the cronies of the "heretics" then approached him and clubbed him on the
head so that he died. Immediately, Hegesippus informs us, G-d put it in the
mind of Vespasian to go and war against Jerusalem to destroy it and the
Temple. Jewish tradition, of course, has a different account of why the
Temple was destroyed, and we shall look at it later.

       It is impossible at this time, to determine the streams of sources
which originally formed Hegesippus' storyx of James' death but we may make
several observations. We are not told who the "Jewish heretics" are but it
is possible that the story had its origin in original earlier Nazarene
sources. The "heretics" may be the Sadducees, the Zealots, or some other
Jewish party. They may also be Pauline Christians who were hostile to
James. A late Nazarene literary source claims that the man who pushed James
from the high wall was none other than Paul. This is historically
impossible since in the year 62 CE, Paul was still confined in Rome. Most
likely, it WAS the Sadducees who are meant by "heretics" since at the time
that the story was committed to writing, the Sadducees had been declared
heretics even by Jews.

       Hegesippus introduces the phrase, "door of jesus" but he does not
elucidate on it. Most probably, as has been noted by others, James  was
asked by the Sadducean authorities, something like MA L'CHA PETACH YESHUA?,
"What do you consider to be the gate of salvation?" To which he replied
that acceptance of Jesus as the messiah by the people would hasten the
return of Jesus and the beginning of the messianic kingdom. There is reason
to believe that the Nazarene sect was very successful in gaining adherents,
and that the number of them continued to increase, as the people continued
to suffer under Roman dictatorship, so that the Romans and Sadducees
actually began to fear them as a real source of potential militant
messianic upheaval and revolt. James son of Zebedee had been done away with
and Peter had been, for all purposes, exiled from the Holy Land. The
authorities may finally have decided to do away with the Nazarne leadership
in hopes that the movement would then fall apart. Naturally, they would
attempt to do away with the remaining two leaders, James and John son of

       With James brother of Jesus now out of the way, there remained only
John. But there is no historical record of any attempt on John's life. It
may be that after the death of James, when even Agrippa the king was
angered at the assassination of a popular religious leader, the Sadducees
decided that the death of the last pillar of the Church would only add to
the list of venerated martyrs that the populace would call to mind if and
when they acted out their resentment towards the Romans and themselves. But
there may have been an additional reason why John was left untouched. From
an earlier part, we recall that the family of Zebedee were the offcial fish
sellers to the house of the High Priest. Polycrates, a second century
Catholic bishop, reports that the family of Zebedee, including John of
course, were also priests. This common sacerdotal bond between the
Sadducees and John may have caused them to refrain from shedding priestly
blood lest the people be ome mad with rage at such an atrocity. In any
event, he alone was now left at Jerusalem to guide the Mother Church in the
few years remaining before its complete destruction and disappearence from

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