Further Study on Historical Jesus

I am reading an amazing book called "James Brother of Jesus" by Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) pioneer Robert Eisenman. There are many themes in this book that have direct bearing on my model.

This book has been criticized for taking liberties with the DSS corpus of texts. The Teacher of Righteousness and other DSS figures are commonly believed to have predated the time of Jesus by up to 200 years. However, Eisenman writes:

"Whether James is to be identified with the Righteous Teacher at Qumran or simply a parallel successor is not the point - the Scrolls allow us to approach the Messianic Community of James with about as much precision as we are likely to have from any other source."

I think this is a valid point. In my model James is a Herodian and as such would have attempted to connect with the various Jewish sects and absorb their ideas and language in the Herodian popular movement. We know from Josephus that Herodian princes were encouraged to study the various Jewish sects in depth and could even consider themselves as belonging to a particular sect. (Whether the leaders of those sects recognized their affiliation is another matter!)

The name James is the Greek form of Jacob. As shown in my book, a Jacob figure often succeeded a Joshua figure directly as in the Hyksos period and also the Egyptian New Kingdom. So, it should not be surprising that James became successor (or at least something of a co-regent) of Jesus in Israel. The previous Herodian Jacob was none other than Herod the Great. And like his forefather, we find James assuming not only the Jacob role but that of Solomon. Eisenman brings this Solomon aspect (a type of wise/righteous Noah) out in his book as well. For example, James is known for making a compromise with Paul. It was agreed that Gentile Christians were not required to obey the entire Law, but a radically limited set of rules that more closely resemble the set given to Noah and his family.

Eisenman goes into extensive detail regarding Balaam typology in the Gospels. This presence of this theme in the life of Jesus should not be surprising to us, in that Tutankhamun (Joshua II) also assumed the role of Balaam during his time period. Eisenman, although he does an excellent job in bringing this aspect out, is also partly confused by it. He writes (p 713), "But when the New Testament playfully applies this language [of Balaam] and its variations either to Jesus' choosing his core Apostles or to his post-resurrection appearances to them, or both, the net result is to trivialize this language, reducing it to farce." Well, as we now know, the typecasting of Jesus as a (comical) Balaam-figure was not pure farce, but a necessary part of his "prophetic" fulfillment. Eisenman notes evidence that the Balaam type also later applied to Paul, who like the Old Testament prophet led Israel astray by teaching them to have no concern in avoiding food offered to idols, to treat slaves well and prosper in business, and to not divorce their unbelieving spouses, as well as many other practices considered heretical by the Jews.

Eisenman also explores the revival of Rechabite traditions by James. As we say in my book, the Rechabites were the non-royal descendants (or followers) of Tutankhamun (Joshua II). So, again, we see deliberate repetition of an earlier tradition that was part of Joshua tradition but not made explicit in Old Testament accounts. Only in extra-biblical memory were these connections still understood.

Eisenman nobly attempts to rescue the greatly repressed historical James brother of Jesus from Pauline propaganda found not only in the Epistles but also in the Gospels that were so heavily influenced by Paul's brand of Christianity.