This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology. You can visit my web pages here, but note that they are not kept up-to-date.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hegesippus on the unity between Paul and James

Here I argue that Hegesippus was a supporter both of Paul's legacy, and of James. This bolsters my view that there was no doctrinal division between Paul and James.

Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History 4.22.7-8 tells us that Hegesippus was a Hebrew, and from 4.22 we learn that he travelled to Rome via Corinth:
Hegesippus in the five books of Memoirs which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. His words are as follows: “And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine.

This journey was in about A.D. 160 because Eusebius says that it was at the time of Anicetus. Hegesippus passed through Aegean churches such as Corinth. Presumably these churches had preserved Paul's letters and his legacy. Since Hegesippus was in agreement with the doctrine held by all  the bishops that he met, we can assume that he was no opponent of Paul's influence. Indeed, his statement that Corinth "continued in the true faith" suggests that he believed that Corinth was already in the true faith, at least after Clement's correcting letter (and Clement was also a fan of Paul). So Hegesippus endorsed Paul's legacy.

But Hegesippus was also a huge admirer of James:
The manner of James’ death has been already indicated by the above-quoted words of Clement, who records that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club. But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs. He writes as follows: “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people. Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, ‘Bulwark of the people’ and ‘Justice,’ in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2.23.3-7)
So, Hegesippus endorsed James too. It is therefore hard to believe that there was a lasting doctrinal schism between Paul and James, yet this seems to be the view of many. Neither Hegesippus, nor Luke saw any rift between the two men. The rift is created only by those who misread Galatians. See here.



Incidentally, Peter Kirby has an interesting post on Hegesippus. He suggests that some words of Hegesippus have been misattributed to Josephus by Clement of Alexandria and by Origen. I think this kind of confused attribution is very possible, especially if Hegesippus's Hebrew name was Joseph.

13 comments:

  1. Richard,

    I just stumbled upon your blog yesterday when this post came up on a google search. All I've read is this post, so I don't know anything else about you yet.

    Kirby also has an interesting post on 1 Clement, in which he speculates that there was an original Jewish version of the epistle that was later Christianized. I think this idea goes well with the idea that Clement of Rome was Flavius Clemens, who was put to death by Domitian for "atheism, a charge on which many others who drifted into Jewish ways were condemned" (Cassius Dio Rom. Hist. 67.14).

    http://peterkirby.com/a-study-in-1-clement.html#comment-1518

    If this is true, then it would make better sense of Hegesippus' reference to an epistle by Clement to the Corinthians than the idea that he was pro-Paul and pro-James, since he makes no mention of Paul anywhere in his extant writings (nor is he said to have done so by anyone else), and is described by Eusebius as using "the Syriac gospel according to the Hebrews [from which] he quotes some passages in the Hebrew tongue, showing that he was a convert from the Hebrews, and he mentions other matters as taken from the unwritten tradition of the Jews."

    John


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  2. John, I do not completely understand your argument here. My argument that Hegesippus endorsed Paul's legacy does not presuppose that the letter of Clement (as it was known by Hegesippus) was a Christian (rather then Jewish) document. My point is that Hegesippus found the doctrine in Paul's churches to be sound.

    Are you perhaps under the assumption that mainstream Hebrew Christianity was doctrinally different from Pauline Christianity? This is the very assumption that I refute in this blog post and elsewhere.

    As for Kirby's post, it is too long for me to read right now (if ever). Does he address the problem that we have no letters from the ancient world that are known to have been interpolated or joined together?

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  3. Richard,

    I was going by what you said here:

    "Hegesippus passed through Aegean churches such as Corinth. Presumably these churches had preserved Paul's letters and his legacy. Since Hegesippus was in agreement with the doctrine held by all the bishops that he met, we can assume that he was no opponent of Paul's influence. Indeed, his statement that Corinth "continued in the true faith" suggests that he believed that Corinth was already in the true faith, at least after Clement's correcting letter (and Clement was also a fan of Paul). So Hegesippus endorsed Paul's legacy."

    All references to Paul in 1 Clement are in the portion of the letter that Kirby suggests was not the original Jewish one. If Kirby is correct, then it would make more sense if Hegesippus was referring to this Jewish original than to the letter as it now exists, since, as I said, Hegesippus does not mention Paul, nor he is said to have done so by anyone.

    Additionally, Hegesippus does not mention Peter, who *is* mentioned in Kirby's supposed "Christianized" portions of 1 Clement. That Hegesippus does not mention Peter either fits with his more Jewish Christian line of Church leaders, James, Symeon, and the grandsons of Judas.

    Concerning these latter, Hegesippus relates that "when they were released [from arrest] they ruled the churches because they were witnesses and were also relatives of the Lord. And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan,” a detail not mentioned by anyone else that I'm aware of.

    Concerning this differing Church history (no Peter), consider that Paul did not have an easy time converting people to his gospel, as is clear enough from Galatians alone, where Cephas, all the Jews, and "even Barnabas" went over to the side of those who were sent to Antioch from James. But 1 and/or 2 Corinthians also expresses his concern with the influence of Hebrew "super-apostles."

    And while the Church fathers are later, they mention differences between Jewish and Pauline Christianity in general and the animosity between Jewish Christians and Paul.

    So one may wonder exactly what kind of "true faith" Hegesippus is referring to,and how it may have differed from the Pauline Church (and 1 Clement as we have it), given his Jewish Christian background and Kirby's idea that 1 Clement may have been interpolated.

    Kirby's remarks on 1 Clement are actually brief. The bulk of his post is the letter itself, divided into his two suggested sections.

    Regarding the issue of interpolations in antiquity in general, if you haven't already read it, Ehrman's "Forged" provides a decent enough introduction to this.

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  4. Thanks for the clarifications, John. I partly understand you now.

    Hegesippus is known only from quotations by others. When someone has specialist insider information on a particular subject it is natural for others to quote him/her on that subject, but not on other subjects. Hegesippus was a Hebrew speaker from the east so he may well have had knowledge of the church of Judea. So it is not surprising that his statements about the Judean church are quoted. Nor is it surprising that no mention by Hegesippus about Paul survives. I think you may be reading too much into this silence.

    Yes, I have read Ehrman's "Forged". He gives no evidence that letters were interpolated, does he?

    You mention Paul's gospel, as if it was different from the gospel of Peter and James. I dispute this. Indeed, Galatians shows that the Galatians knew/believed that Paul preached his gospel merely to please the Jerusalem church leaders. See here:
    http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.ca/2011/10/how-acts-explains-galatians.html

    You mentioned the superapostles, but the majority of Corinthians specialists see no evidence that they were allied with the Jerusalem church leaders. Also, if the Jerusalem church leaders were in favour of circumcision for Gentiles, and if they had sent the super-apostles to Corinth, then we would expect circumcision to be an important issue in 2 Corinthians, but it is not.

    You wrote, "And while the Church fathers are later, they mention differences between Jewish and Pauline Christianity in general and the animosity between Jewish Christians and Paul". You speak of Jewish Christianity as if it was monolithic and different from "Pauline Christianity". Paul was a Jew too, of course. It is clear from Acts that some Jewish Christians opposed the view of Peter, Paul, and James that Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised, and Paul's letters confirm that Peter and James and were on Paul's side. What texts from the church fathers did you have in mind, and do you think that they show that Paul and the leaders of the Judean church had doctrinal differences?

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  5. Richard,

    Sorry for the delay. I don't own Forged, so I had to wait for it to be returned to the library. You are right. I didn't see anything in it about letters being interpolated, only that some letters and other writings may have been falsely written in the name of someone else.

    I've also had time to read a little more of your blog, and now have a better sense of who you are and what you think, and I see that you are already knowledgable about these kinds of things and Christian origins in general.

    You wrote:

    "You speak of Jewish Christianity as if it was monolithic and different from 'Pauline Christianity'."

    I see both terms as umbrellas that cover various Christian factions, but I do think there is a clear enough dividing line to warrant saying that there were those who believed that it was necessary to observe Jewish law and those who did not. When I have more time I will cite the sources that make me think this and maybe address some other things you said in your last response.




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  6. Richard,

    You asked:

    "What texts from the church fathers did you have in mind, and do you think that they show that Paul and the leaders of the Judean church had doctrinal differences?"

    I'm thinking of second century and later references such as these:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ebionites_according_to_the_Church_Fathers

    I suppose I could dig up something more on my own, but the link saves me a lot of trouble.

    As for the first century, I think that the Letter of James was written by James or a Jewish Christian, and I also view it as anti-Pauline. I've read various arguments for and against the latter idea (and I reckon you have as well), but thus far I have not been persuaded by arguments against it.

    And I'm not sure how familiar you are with the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I'm also convinced by Robert Eisenman's idea that (some of) the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by pre-70 Jewish Christians and that James was the "Teacher of Righteousness" and Paul was the law-free "Liar" mentioned in the Damascus Document and the Pesharim, so in my view this is further evidence of a divide between Christians who kept the law and those who did not (and I use the term "Christian" loosely here, since in the time and place of the DSS it would arguably not be applicable, cf. Acts 11:26).


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  7. Anonymous, thanks for this convenient link to sources concerning the Ebionites. I agree with you that there were Christians in each of the early centuries who thought that it was necessary to observe the Law. It is possible that the Ebionites represented a continuous tradition that went back to the men from Judea whom Luke mentions (Acts 15:2), but this is far from clear. It is striking, however, that none of the texts about the Ebionites even mention James or the other leaders of the Judean church. There is no evidence that they appealed to the authority of James. This argument from silence is not particularly strong, but perhaps it lends a little support to what I have argued from Hegesippus.

    It is true that Irenaeus writes that the Ebionites "repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law", but this does not show that they allied with James. It merely shows that they found passages in Paul's letters (as they were being interpreted at the end of the second century) inconvenient to their doctrine.

    I do not think that the letter of James is anti-Paul, though it is possible that it was written to counter attitudes that developed from a misunderstanding of Paul's letters (and such misunderstandings persist today).

    It is a while since I have read Robert Eisenman's work, but I remember being unimpressed. I am not surprised that the specialists have rejected his theory. Nor am I surprised that his books find a market.

    As you may have discovered from some of my other blog posts, I think that the "they came" textual variant at Gal 2:12 is very unfortunate and is responsible for the assumption that James opposed Paul.

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  8. Richard,

    You wrote:

    "It is possible that the Ebionites represented a continuous tradition that went back to the men from Judea whom Luke mentions (Acts 15:2), but this is far from clear."

    Whether or not Ebionites represented traditions going back to the group mentioned in Acts 15:2, Ebionites were at least like them in the sense that both were law-observant groups that one can fit under the term "Jewish Christianity."

    "It is striking, however, that none of the texts about the Ebionites even mention James or the other leaders of the Judean church. There is no evidence that they appealed to the authority of James."

    But in keeping with the term "Jewish Christianity," the Pseudo-Clementines do revere James and possibly exhibit an anti-Pauline stance, and while they are relatively late, several scholars consider them to have incorporated an earlier Jewish Christian source, and I tend to agree with this. And while I have not read anything by Jones, I stumbled upon a review of one of his books that I think adequately sums up this view point:

    http://themarginaliareview.com/archives/2680

    John

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  9. The Pseudo-Clementines, are late, as you say. They may have been influenced by the same misinterpretation of Gal 2:12 that plagues scholarship today.

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  10. Relative to early Christian writings like the ones in the NT, the Pseudo-Clementines are late, but they are attested to no later than Hegesippus (Eusebius, EH 3.38).

    And as Eusebius used an earlier (and from my point of view, Jewish Christian) source in the case of Hegesippus, scholars see the Pseudo-Clementines as having used earlier Jewish Christian sources (which may or may not be connected with the Ebionites and called the "Travels of Peter written by Clement" and "certain ascents and instructions in the supposed 'Ascents of James'" by Epiphanius in Pan. 30.15.1 and 30.16.7).

    And as the equal lateness of the earliest attestation of Hegesippus does not keep you from using his writings to support your point of view that there was unity between followers of Paul and James, I see both Hegesippus and the Pseudo-Clementines as supporting my point of view that there wasn't unity between followers of Paul and James.

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  11. John (I am assuming that all the anonymous comments are from you), thanks for helping me to explore these issues. I appreciate your logical style of argument.

    EH 3:38 refers to second Clement, which has no relevance to our discussion. It also says, "And certain men have lately brought forward other wordy and lengthy writings under his name, containing dialogues of Peter and Apion. But no mention has been made of these by the ancients". This therefore indicates that the documents falsely attributed to Clement were late (~300 A.D.) and therefore of no value to our enquiry. Eusebius's evidence concerning Hegesippus, on the other hand, is of great value because he had Hegesippus's works before him, and because the events described were early (~160 A.D.).

    Yes, Epiphanius Pan. 30.16.7 mentions the "ascents of James". However, Epiphanius was 4th century, and gives no hint that the "ascents of James" was an ancient document, so he is too late to be of value for historians of the first century James. The "ascents of James" misunderstands Paul, so it is an unreliable document. Also, it is not clear to me that the "ascents of James" presented James as more pro-Law than was the Paul, so it does not, in any case, witness to a doctrinal difference between Paul and James.

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  12. Richard,

    Yes, all the comments here are from me (John). Sorry for not making that more clear by signing all of them.

    While EH 3.38.4 does mention 2 Clement: "[T]here is said to be a second epistle of Clement. But we do not know that this is recognized like the former, for we do not find that the ancients have made any use of it";

    The reference to the Pseudo-Clementines is in the next section (5):

    "And certain men have lately brought forward other wordy and lengthy writings under his name, containing dialogues of Peter and Apion. But no mention has been made of these by the ancients; for they do not even preserve the pure stamp of apostolic orthodoxy."

    Thus 2 Clement (described as "this" and "it") is a different writing than the "other wordy and lengthy writings under his name" ("these," "they").

    Concerning their late attestation ("no mention has been made of these by the ancients"), the same can be said of Hegesippus, whatever his time period may have been. And the events described in the Pseudo-Clementines are also early.

    As for Epiphanius, besides the Ascents of James, he mentions an Ebionite writing called the "Travels of Peter", which, like the writings in Clement's name mentioned by Eusebus, he distinguishes from the epistles of Clement:

    3015.1-2: "But they use certain other books as well—supposedly the so-called Travels of Peter written by Clement, though they corrupt their contents while leaving a few genuine passages. Clement himself convicts them of this in every way in his general epistles which are read in the holy churches, because his faith and speech are of a different character than their spurious productions in his name in the Travels."

    Also, like these "other" writings in Clement's name that Eusebius mentions, this writing contained information that is also in the Pseudo-Clementines:

    30.15:3: "In the Travels they have .... slandered Peter in many ways, saying that he was baptized daily for purification as they are. And they say he abstained from flesh and dressed meat as they do, and any other dish made from meat."

    And Epiphanius says that the Ebionite sect started in the first century, after the fall of the Jerusalem, but that they themselves claimed to go back even further:

    30.2.7: "Their origin came after the fall of Jerusalem. For since practically all who had come to faith in Christ had settled in Peraea then, in Pella, a town in the 'Decapolis' the Gospel mentions, which is near Batanaea and Bashanitis—as they had moved there then and were living there."

    30.17.2: "They themselves, if you please, boastfully claim that they are poor because they sold their possessions in the apostles' time and laid them at the apostles' feet, and went over to a life of poverty and renunciation; and thus, they say, they are called 'poor' by everyone."

    And both Eusebius and Epiphanius say that these writings in Clement's name that the Ebionites used contained unorthodox doctrines.

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  13. Richard,

    Concerning my last comment, I should have instead written: "And both Eusebius and Epiphanius say that these writings in Clement's name contained unorthodox doctrines," since I am only assuming the writings mentioned by Eusebius were used by the Ebionites.

    I'm too busy to give all the exact citations now, but I wanted to bring Hegesippus back into this by adding that it is clear that the biggest problem that church fathers had with Jewish Christians was their continued observance of Jewish law, and this is in keeping with Hegesippus' "true doctrine," which he specifically says consisted of "the law and the prophets and the Lord."

    Additionally, the vegetarianism of Peter in that Epiphanius considered slanderous is also said of James in Hegesippus: "nor did he eat flesh."

    John

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