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A distinguished biblical scholar explores the long-neglected role of James, the brother of Jesus, in the beginnings of Christianity, examining early Church documents, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, to show how James became the true heir of Jesus.
Drawing on the Dead Sea Scrolls and on long overlooked early Church texts, Eisenman reveals in this groundbreaking major exploration the Christianity of Paul as a distortion of what James and Jesus preached. Whereas James and his followers, "zealous for the Law" of Moses, were nationalistic and apocalyptic, Paul's Hellenized movement promoted itself as pacifist, cosmopolitan, and faith-based. In an argument with enormous implications, Eisenman identifies Paul as deeply compromised by Roman contacts, and James as not simply the leader of Christianity of his day, but the popular Jewish leader of his time, whose death triggered the Uprising against Rome. Creative rewriting of early Church documents has obscured this fact. Eisenman shows that characters like "Judas Iscariot" and "the Apostle James" did not exist as such and details an actual physical assault by Paul on James in the Temple. By rescuing James from the oblivion into which he was deliberately cast, James the Brother of Jesus. James the Brother of Jesus reveals one of the most successful historical rewrite enterprises ever accomplished.
James the Brother of Jesus is the first in a projected two-volume examination of early Christianity. The author, Robert Eisenman, has visited this subject many times in earlier books concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls. While most experts agree that the scrolls were written by various Jewish groups between 150 B.C. and A.D. 66, Eisenman contends that they are actually the work of first-century Christians. He goes so far as to link St. James, the brother of Jesus, with the "Teacher of Righteousness," and St. Paul with the "Man of the Lie" mentioned in the texts. In <James the Brother of Jesus, he expands this theory to cover a complete history of early Christianity and the Temple Judaism in which the former resists the dominant Greco-Roman culture and the latter adapts to it.
Robert Eisenman, one of the most eminent researchers of early Christianity working today, has produced an exhaustive study of the historical milieu at the time of Jesus and come to the conclusion that James, rather than Peter, was heir to his teachings. Because the historical material regarding James is actually quite plentiful, a clear picture arises not only in regard to who James was, but by extension, who Jesus was also. Controversy is assured; still, given a patient reading, one will discover that Eisenman's research is meticulous, his arguments cogent, and his conclusions persuasive. This should prove to be a popular and influential book.
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- Top of page: Cover of James the Brother of Jesus; Copyright © 1997 Viking Press
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