posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 02:03 PM
Robert Eisenman's JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS
IN his..... "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians" Robert Eisenman has been threatening/promising to redraw the map of Christian
To anticipate the thrust of the book as a whole, let it be said that Eisenman first draws a portrait of the early community of James as a
nationalistic, messianic, priestly, and xenophobic sect of ultra-legal pietism, something most of us would deem fanaticism. As Schweitzer said of the
historical Jesus, this is an embarrassment and a disappointment to those who expect the original gospel to look refreshingly modernistic. Eisenman
shows how "Jewish Christianity" was part and parcel of the sectarian milieu which included Essenes, Zealots, Nazoreans, Nazirites, Ebionites,
Elchasites, Sabeans, Mandaeans, etc., and that these categories were no more than ideal types, by no means actually segregated one from the other like
exotic beasts in adjacent, well-marked cages in the theological zoo. Over against this sort of "Lubavitcher Christianity," Eisenman depicts Pauline
Christianity (plus its Hellenistic cousins Johannine, Markan, Lukan, etc., Christianities) as being root and branch a compromising, assimilating,
Herodianizing apostasy from Judaism.
Dr. Eisenman defines the key conflicts that early Christians battled over in a theological, if not literal, sense:
His working hypothesis is that the confusions, alterations, and obfuscations stem from an interest in covering over the importance, and therefore
the identity, of the desposyni, the Heirs of Jesus, who had apparently functioned at least for Palestinian Christianity as a dynastic Caliphate
similar to the Alid succession of Shi'ite Islam or the succession of Hasmonean brothers. It is a commonplace that the gospel texts treating Jesus'
mother, brothers and sisters either severely (Mark and John) or delicately (Luke, cf., the Gospel according to the Hebrews) are functions of
ecclesiastical polemics over their leadership claims as opposed to Peter and the Twelve (analogous to the Companions of the Prophet in Sunni Islam) or
to outsiders like Paul. It is equally well known that the Synoptic apostle lists differ between themselves and between manuscripts of each gospel.
Why? Eisenman connects these phenomena with another, the confusion arising among early theologians over the siblings of Jesus as the doctrine of
Mary's perpetual virginity became widespread. They had to be harmonized with the dogma, so brothers and sisters became cousins, step-siblings, etc.
And characters became sundered. Mary suddenly had a sister named Mary because the mother of James, Joses, Simon, and Judas could no longer also be the
mother of Jesus. And so on.
While the "heretical" early Christian views of Jesus-as-a-man-not-God have been "exorcized" by the 4th Century Roman Catholic Church and its
political patrons, today we have Dead Sea Scroll documents that are re-challenging those "Jesus is God vs. Jesus is man" issues. Is there any
surprise that certain institutions are against the latest interpretations of these Dead Sea Scrolls or are working to block the release of unpublished
Dead Sea Scroll fragments?
Riding this wave of controversy is Dan Brown in his Da Vinci Code novel. Considering the impact this book and movie has had on the public, is it
possible for the Catholic Church and other Christians to effectively do damage control? Or has the Pandora's box been opened for good?
[edit on 7/21/2008 by Matrix1111]