Author Topic: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?  (Read 1630 times)

Real-Jesus apologists love to quote Galatians 1:19 as evidence for a historical Jesus. The passage tells us:

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...but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.

Many people misquote this passage as referring to a "James, the brother of Jesus," but it actually refers to James as "the Lord's brother."

In any case, most people and presumably most scholars interpret this passage from Galatians as a reference to James as the blood-brother of Jesus. Bart Ehrman, for example, argues that since Jesus had a brother, then Jesus must have existed! (Brilliant logic there, Bart. Assume what you try to prove.)

But I think there is a fatal flaw with this argument aside from the question-begging. In that same chapter in verses 11-12 we read:

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For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

So if Paul knew James who was a blood-brother of Jesus, then why did Paul never preach anything about Jesus that James, the brother of Jesus might have told him about Jesus? Surely a blood-brother of Jesus who knew Paul would have shared much of his first-hand knowledge of his brother Jesus with Paul. Yet Paul tells us that, no, nothing he preached about Jesus came from this James or any other person.

So I must conclude that the James mentioned in Galatians 1:19 was almost certainly not the blood-brother of Jesus, and real-Jesus apologists have no smoking gun here.

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 11:58:44 AM »
Yeah, I agree, Jagella, that Jesus was/is a fiction.  Just like in many other fictions, the created characters can have as many fictional brothers and sisters as the author wants.  So, if Pecos Bill had a brother, then that would mean Pecos Bill was real and not fictional?  Don't think so. 

I have found that the most prolific NT author, Paul, does not mention much, if anything, about a real flesh and blood Jesus, but fails to use any of Jesus' arguments to bolster his own; who better to lend credence to his ideas than the creator of said ideas?  Yet, nothing of that nature. 

What many people fail to realize is that the NT is not arranged in chronological order--if so, then all of Paul's writings would come first and the books of Mark, Matthew, Luke/Acts, and John strung out in the middle to the end of the NT.  Read in that order, a different picture of Jesus appears.  The editors of the NT were not ignorant of the principles of propaganda.   
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2019, 01:18:19 PM »
Yeah, Sherlock Holmes was said to have had a brother, named Mycroft, so he must've been a real person as well!

Not only did Paul not use Jesus as a source for his doctrine, but he directly contradicted Jesus many times in his letters.
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"An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949)

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2019, 01:53:15 PM »
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Yeah, I agree, Jagella, that Jesus was/is a fiction.

Well, I'm really not arguing here that Jesus didn't exist. I'm saying that arguing that Jesus existed because he had a brother named James is illogical. I'm unsure that Jesus existed, but I am sure that there is no good reason to believe he existed. So those who say there was a historical Jesus are not making a good case, in my opinion. Their evidence is weak and their logic is fallacious.

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Just like in many other fictions, the created characters can have as many fictional brothers and sisters as the author wants.  So, if Pecos Bill had a brother, then that would mean Pecos Bill was real and not fictional?  Don't think so.


Some real-Jesus apologists assert without good reason that James was Jesus' sibling. As I argue in the OP, it's a sure bet that James was not Jesus' sibling.

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I have found that the most prolific NT author, Paul, does not mention much, if anything, about a real flesh and blood Jesus, but fails to use any of Jesus' arguments to bolster his own; who better to lend credence to his ideas than the creator of said ideas?  Yet, nothing of that nature.


Maurice Casey argues that Paul didn't bother to tell the gentile Christians about the life of Jesus because Jesus was a Jew, and gentiles just don't care about Jewish ways. Funny, I'm a gentile, but I want to know about the Judaism in the gospel.

At any rate, you would think that Paul and James would have talked a lot about Jesus, Paul wanting to know what it was like being Jesus' brother. But Paul tells us that all he preached--and by extension all he knew--about Jesus was not from James. This scenario makes no sense if James was the blood-brother of Jesus.

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What many people fail to realize is that the NT is not arranged in chronological order--if so, then all of Paul's writings would come first and the books of Mark, Matthew, Luke/Acts, and John strung out in the middle to the end of the NT.  Read in that order, a different picture of Jesus appears.  The editors of the NT were not ignorant of the principles of propaganda.


Yes, it seems unlikely to me that if Jesus existed, then his life's story was written down after his being deified.

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2019, 05:17:41 PM »
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Yeah, Sherlock Holmes was said to have had a brother, named Mycroft, so he must've been a real person as well!

It's a little more complicated than that. If we follow the logic of real-Jesus apologists, then Sherlock Holmes would be a real person if somebody said that they knew his brother, Mycroft. How, they might ask, could Mycroft be Sherlock's brother if Sherlock didn't exist?

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Not only did Paul not use Jesus as a source for his doctrine, but he directly contradicted Jesus many times in his letters.

What has often struck me as different between Jesus and Paul is that Jesus taught people to obey the law to be saved while Paul preached that the law cannot save. It appears that Paul was unaware of what Jesus supposedly taught. We can explain this paradox by concluding that there was no belief in the law-giving Jesus until long after Paul preached and died. So assuming Jesus never existed is very handy for answering these kinds of questions.

Offline SGOS

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2019, 05:41:59 PM »
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In any case, most people and presumably most scholars interpret this passage from Galatians as a reference to James as the blood-brother of Jesus. Bart Ehrman, for example, argues that since Jesus had a brother, then Jesus must have existed!
That one made me spew a mouthful of coffee on my monitor.

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2019, 08:02:23 PM »
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That one made me spew a mouthful of coffee on my monitor.

Are you serious? I'm sorry if I made you spew coffee. LOL

One other argument that real-Jesus apologists make (and that I hope doesn't make you throw up) is that the Jesus-myth theory is essentially an atheist conspiracy against Christendom. Bart Ehrman, for instance, writes the following in his Huffington Post article, You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

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...these deniers of Jesus are at the same time denouncers of religion — a breed of human now very much in vogue.  And what better way to malign the religious views of the vast majority of religious persons in the western world, which remains, despite everything, overwhelmingly Christian, than to claim that the historical founder of their religion was in fact the figment of his followers’ imagination?

Of course, the "deniers of Jesus" and "denouncers of religion" are atheists. While not all atheists deny or don't accept the historicity of Jesus, I think it is true that almost all Jesus-mythicists are atheists. Why is that the case?

One possible answer to this question is that most atheists don't need a historical Jesus. There is no emotional investment in his existence. As such, they can openly accept the possibility that Jesus never existed in the same way that Christians generally don't believe Hercules existed. Christians, on the other hand, will fight tooth-and-nail at any hint that there was no Christ. Others, too, may have a stake in the historicity of Jesus, and "hell hath no fury" like their belief in him scorned.

Agree? Disagree? Have another cup of coffee?

Offline Baruch

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2019, 08:20:47 PM »
Please define "brother" and "Lord"?  That isn't history, it is theology.

In ordinary terms, every male relative of comparable age was a "brother".  Members of the same fraternal organization (see Chavurah) are "brothers".  Pagans accused Christians of being incestuous because the men and women of the congregation addressed each other as "brother" and "sister".  Later Christian practice makes all monks "brothers" and all nuns "sisters".

And "Lord".  That could have been any boss at all, including Emperor Tiberius, or the Propraetor of Judea … Pontius Pilatus.

Do you realize that the original text is not only in Greek, but has no punctuation, no caps?  Lord = lord.  In Hebrew "lord" = "adon" … and G_d is commonly addressed as Adonai = My Lord.  Are you saying that James (the Just) was G-d's brother?

I studied the "historical Jesus" question 20 years ago.  I came to the conclusion that there wasn't any such person, and even if there was he was just another homeless Jew.  Now, Paul, he was signficant.  But Christians don't want to admit even what Paul says, let alone attribute most of what later became Christianity, to a Pharisee persecutor.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 08:24:47 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline aitm

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2019, 11:54:05 AM »
If you're studying the babble for theological reasons you easily find ways to justify the ridiculous and can put blinders on to the obvious gaps in pure reason and common sense. If you read it once or twice in a matter of fact and unbiased view the thing is overflowing with pure crap.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2019, 01:04:14 PM »
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Please define "brother" and "Lord"?  That isn't history, it is theology.

We don't know for sure what those words meant in the context of Galatians 1:18-20. Like most words, "brother" and "lord" can mean different things to different people. To save their belief in a historical Jesus, apologists insist that "brother" must mean blood-brother and "lord" must mean Jesus.

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In ordinary terms, every male relative of comparable age was a "brother".  Members of the same fraternal organization (see Chavurah) are "brothers".


Sure, but again that's a meaning that apologists cannot entertain. Otherwise, they must give up on James being the blood brother of Jesus which they hope is good evidence for a historical Jesus.

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Pagans accused Christians of being incestuous because the men and women of the congregation addressed each other as "brother" and "sister".  Later Christian practice makes all monks "brothers" and all nuns "sisters".

I was not aware of the incest allegations, but in that case apologists would no doubt argue that "brother" did not mean blood brother. So the meaning of the word depends on whatever variation suits the purposes of apologetics best.

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And "Lord".  That could have been any boss at all, including Emperor Tiberius, or the Propraetor of Judea … Pontius Pilatus.

Yes. The Greek word Κύριε can be translated as either "lord" or "master."

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Do you realize that the original text is not only in Greek, but has no punctuation, no caps?  Lord = lord.  In Hebrew "lord" = "adon" … and G_d is commonly addressed as Adonai = My Lord.  Are you saying that James (the Just) was G-d's brother?

We don't know what Paul really meant. In most cases, if Paul refers to Jesus, he says "Christ Jesus" or "Lord Jesus Christ" or something like that, but I only know of one instance where he supposedly refers to Jesus as merely "Lord," Galatians 1:18-20.

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I studied the "historical Jesus" question 20 years ago.  I came to the conclusion that there wasn't any such person, and even if there was he was just another homeless Jew.
 

What made you come to that conclusion?

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Now, Paul, he was signficant.  But Christians don't want to admit even what Paul says, let alone attribute most of what later became Christianity, to a Pharisee persecutor.

Paul's story is about as suspect as the story of Jesus, and it's foolish for apologists to try to use an unknown Paul as evidence for an unknown Jesus.

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2019, 01:35:39 PM »
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If you're studying the babble for theological reasons you easily find ways to justify the ridiculous and can put blinders on to the obvious gaps in pure reason and common sense. If you read it once or twice in a matter of fact and unbiased view the thing is overflowing with pure crap.

Yes. I have known Christians to admonish me not to go "too deep." I think they fear what might lurk there in "the deep."

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2019, 02:13:42 PM »
Very few Christians have actually read the whole Bible - they'd rather just thump it. I suspect that "going deep" means reading what the Bible actually says instead of taking the meaning from the preacher, who cherry-picks what he thinks will be "good for their souls."


Quote from: Luther Burbank
Let us read the Bible without the ill-fitting colored spectacles of theology, just as we read other books, using our own judgement and reason, listening to the voice within, not to the noisy babel without. Most of us possess discriminating reasoning powers. Can we use them or must we be fed by others like babies?
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"An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949)

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2019, 10:35:20 PM »
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Very few Christians have actually read the whole Bible - they'd rather just thump it. I suspect that "going deep" means reading what the Bible actually says instead of taking the meaning from the preacher, who cherry-picks what he thinks will be "good for their souls."

Let's face it; reading is hard work, and considering that a printed Bible is over 1,000 pages long, few people have the time or inclination to learn its many strange stories, its boring poetry, its illogical laws, and its failed prophecies. It's so much easier, as you say, to be spoon-fed the "Bible" by the clergy. But of course it's really not the Bible they learn but what the preacher says it says. So when some upstart apostate like you or me comes along having read the Bible ourselves, we are greeted with incredulity by the faithful who are shocked when we tell them its true contents. We've got to be wrong--it's not what they've been told.

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2019, 10:56:04 PM »
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Let's face it; reading is hard work, and considering that a printed Bible is over 1,000 pages long, few people have the time or inclination to learn its many strange stories, its boring poetry, its illogical laws, and its failed prophecies. It's so much easier, as you say, to be spoon-fed the "Bible" by the clergy. But of course it's really not the Bible they learn but what the preacher says it says. So when some upstart apostate like you or me comes along having read the Bible ourselves, we are greeted with incredulity by the faithful who are shocked when we tell them its true contents. We've got to be wrong--it's not what they've been told.

The Harry Potter books (UK editions) are 3,407 pages long, and has been read by millions of people from start to finish. Yet Christians can't be bothered to read the Bible. You'd think the "Word of God" would get greater priority.
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Offline Baruch

Re: Is the James in Galatians 1:19 evidence for a historical Jesus?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2019, 12:34:46 AM »
Jagella - well, it is a long story, and you asked me more than one question.  To give a few highlights …

1. I didn't read the entire Bible until I was 32.  Before that I read it like I do all fictional works, the start (what is the story about) and the ending (did the butler do it?).  So Genesis and Revelations was pretty much it.

2. I wasn't strongly influenced by Christianity until I got married, when I was 30 ... my wife being Christian.  Before that I was more indluenced by comparative religion studies (anthropology) and Zen Buddhism.

3. When my wife decided to go to seminary, to study to be a preacher, I knew I had to get more serious, to keep up.  Though by that time I was already teaching Church history to adults in Church.

4. The seminaries my wife went to were liberal Protestant.  Bishop Spong was an early influence for both of us, and later two of her professors were members of the Jesus Seminar.  I ate that stuff up.  But being of an independent mind, and my religious POV evolving constantly ...

5. My technical review of what the Jesus Seminar and other liberal historical Jesus scholars had done (read both pro and con) led me to my own independent conclusion different from the Jesus Seminar.  They had decided in advance what their conclusion would be, and were testing the material in 5 gospels (Thomas included) against that hypothetical conclusion.  This is a legitimate method of analysis, if done right.  But I didn't have their agenda.  I could review their results outside of the framework they did it in.  Also I used the individual analysis of John Domnic Crossan, as a control (see empirical methods).

6. So I had to conclude that any historical actions by Jesus, aside from being symbolic of his supposed theology (acting out prophesy, like riding an ass into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday) was insignificant.  For me, on the act of Jesus, the Gospel of John was primary, not the Gospel of Mark.  Because we read the synoptics in the light of John.  John's Gospel and Epistles being clearly gnostic based on the Song of Songs (of Solomon).  A rabbinic theology of love, simliar to Rabbi Akiva, who notoriously supported the false messiah Bar Kochba.

7. I also concluded that the Greek original of Thomas, is the Q document.  That the reasons given by scholarship for saying it wasn't the Q document, were specious (they were apologetics).  The standard Q document ordering in based on the Gospel of Luke.  A "sayings" gospel would not have the precise rhetorical structure we see in the sayings of Jesus as laid out in Luke.  Luke is a more refined synoptic gospel, the last of the three (Mark being the first, then Matthew in reaction to Mark).  The Gospel of Luke goes with the Acts of Paul, stylistically, and was written more refined and more Gentile, by Paul's community, in the light of 70 CE or even later.  The Gospel of John is counted as the last, and the Gospel of Thomas counted as spurious, by a biased clergy.


8.  Again, comparing Thomas, with John, and the genuine letter of Paul, it screams mythos and gnosis.  That was the original form, not the narrative of Jesus ministry or childhood.  The emphasis on the mystical Jesus came, per later evidence, come from Alexandria.  The emphasis on the human Jesus, per later evidence, comes from Antioch.  But the original inspiration comes from James the Just in Jerusalem.  But that version died out in 135, when Jerusalem was destroyed a second time, and all Jews were permanently banned from the location of Aelia Capitolina (and they had to since the whole city and surroundings had been rendered unkosher).

9. We have Eusebius of Caesarea (and buddy of Constantine at the Nicea conference) remind us in his history, that at that point the Church became entirely Gentile.  Because again, the Jewish Christians were banned from Aelia Capitlina, but Gentile Christians were not.  And because again, the Jewish officials, tolerated only an approved messiah, Bar Kochba, and so savagely persecuted the Jewish Christians (Gentile Christians didn't even figure in Jerusalem at that time, because they weren't Pauline.  BTW, John Dominc Crossans book on the importance of Paul, is a classic.

10. So all we have is a disordered set of aphorisms, wisdom literature comparable to Proverbs, written originally in Greek, by Hellenized Jews ... and the letter of Paul also in Greek.  And the Bible at that point, for Jewish and Gentile Christians alike, was the Septuaginta (Greek OT with additions),  There is nothing in all of that, or other Intertestamental literature, including other gnostic texts or Dead Sea scrolls and substantiates any historical Jesus, just the one or two antipated messiahs (an Aaronic messiah and a Davidic messiah).

Any educated member of the Therapeutae (as written about by Philo of Alexandria) could have written the Q document, or the other heterodox Jewish sect (there were several) who were part of the Hellenized Jewish community, which was extensive, until wiped out in the three Judeo-Roman wars of extermination ... in 66-74, 113-115 and 132-135 CE.  And back then almost all written material was anonymous.  It was later ascribed to real of fictional characters of antiquity.  Only the most brazen authors, even pagans, put their name on written works.  Julius Caesar, a megalomaniac, comes to mind ;-)

Basically, the 4 standard gospels, were written originall as sectarian Jewish polemic, 66-135 CE, and in the light of events, reinterpreted as anti-Semitic burlesque by the post 135 CE Pauline communities, which were totally Gentile and completely anti-Jewish and pro-Roman.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 12:47:20 AM by Baruch »
𐎍𐎜𐎜𐎟𐎌𐎀𐎍𐎎𐎀𐎀𐎚𐎀𐎟𐎍𐎜𐎜𐎟𐎁𐎀𐎍𐎉𐎀𐎀𐎚𐎀
luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

 

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