Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Is James the unknown disciple who was confronted by Jesus?

Mark Goodacre recently posted his paper, When Prophecy Became Passion: The Death of Jesus and the Birth of the Gospels, which prompted to review Part One on the Earliest Christian Tradition. Goodacre includes as part of this earliest Christian tradition 1 Cor 15. Goodacre writes: “So Paul has the opportunity to expand on traditions about the resurrection and in 1 Cor. 15, he provides a short Easter narrative, recounting, in sequence, an appearance to Peter, then the twelve, then James the Lord’s brother, then all the apostles, then five hundred people and finally “as to one untimely born” to Paul himself.”

Initially, I note that the recounting in sequence the post resurrection appearances can not be found in this order in any single gospel account. It is clearly a composite statement based on the earliest Christian tradition. But it does lend credence to the idea that Luke is the earliest gospel. However, as you may know, I personally think that Luke is the unknown disciple.

Nonetheless, I have been thinking about that theory that James is the person traveling with Cleopas on the road to Emmaus when they are confronted by Jesus. The two men do not recognize Jesus and they together with the other relatives considered Jesus to be crazy. Jesus said his brothers and sisters were those close to the kingdom but not those who rejected him. The relatives rejected Jesus yet are identified as being part of the community of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem before Pentecost. Something had to happen for family members to be able to become leaders of the community in Jerusalem. Since Jesus stressed the importance of meals, then the Emmaus pericope could represent a reconciliation meal with family members made possible because they now understood why Jesus had to suffer before he entered into his glory.

What is the source of Paul’s idea that Jesus made an appearance to James? If the Emmaus pericope is the source, then this is consistent with the theory that the Gospel of Luke predates Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It is consistent with the tradition reported by Eusebius that when Paul said “according to my gospel” he was in fact referring to the Gospel of Luke. It is also consistent with the tradition reported by Jerome that Luke is the unknown person being praised by Paul in 2 Cor 8:18.

For more detailed analysis, see Who was Cleophas' companion by Sylvie Chabert d'Hyères

Copyrighted 2006


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