James, the brother of the Lord


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

So @TimONeill made a New blogpost on Paul and Josephus’ reference to James, the brother of Jesus.

Thoughts?

My favourite part:

This leaves Mythicists with the problem of trying to argue that this reference to meeting “the brother of the Lord” is not, in fact, a reference to meeting Jesus’ actual sibling. And they are also forced to admit that this is a considerable problem to overcome, with even the inevitable Dr. Richard Carrier PhD (who has a doctorate) saying “I assign it 2:1 in favor of historicity” (“Did Jesus Have Actual Brothers” in On the Historicity of Jesus: The Daniel Gullotta Review). Elsewhere he makes a similar, though rather backhanded, admission of the difficulty this reference poses to Mythicism by saying it is “in my opinion the only actual evidence [‘historicists’] have” (On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, p. 582). Fellow Mythicist Robert Price is rather more frank, stating “[the] most powerful argument against the Christ-Myth theory, in my judgment, is the plausibility of …. ‘the Caliphate of James’” (Price, The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems, p. 333).

So even mythicists will concede that Paul ‘does’ mention a historical, earthly Jesus here.


(Tim O'Neill) #2

Well, they don’t actually admit that. They just admit the Galatians 1:19 references poses a serious challenge to their thesis, because they have to work hard to maintain their argument that the use of “brother” there is figurative, not literal.

But I’m glad you enjoyed my article.


(Jon) #3

There is also lexical evidence that ‘X, the brother of Y’ is a reference to biological kinship rather than fictive kinship; the LXX (2 Kingdoms 36:10), Mark 5:37, and Acts 12:2, all in contexts which refer explicitly to biological kinship.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #4

It’s very clear to me, after reading Carrier’s ad hoc responses to the ‘Brother of the Lord’ quote, that Jesus Mythicists are desperately trying to shoehorn Jesus Mythicism into contemporary texts.


(Edward Miller) #5

It is true that our Lord had half-siblings: God was Jesus’ Father and the rest were the children of Joseph and Mary. I know that certain groups would disagree with me; however, that is what the Bible tells me.


#6

This is another fantastic article, props to @TimONeill for doing some heavy lifting. I also wonder about Tim’s thoughts of what Jonathan pointed out:

There is also lexical evidence that ‘X, the brother of Y’ is a reference to biological kinship rather than fictive kinship; the LXX (2 Kingdoms 36:10), Mark 5:37, and Acts 12:2, all in contexts which refer explicitly to biological kinship.


(Juan Romero) #7

“B-b-but it is an interpolation!”
-Average response.


(Tim O'Neill) #8

IIRC, when Mythicists have the fact that “X the brother of Y” can be shown to be used literally, they accept this but still argue that in Galatians 1:19 it is “fictive”. To support this they refer to … Carrier. This is why I focused my article on the little woolly-headed sophist.


(Jon) #9

I actually had it out with Carrier on this very point. He claimed that we don’t really have any good extant literature on fictive kinship address, especially in non-inscriptional literature. I pointed out we do, thus.

We have a vast range of literature thatused fictive kinship address, including plenty in non-inscriptional literature. See TLG, Perseus, the Duke Papyri, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, OrientisGraeci Inscriptiones Selectae, Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum, Archiv fürPapyrusforschung, and Dittenberger, among other collections.

To save time,instead of searching these resources directly (a couple of them I don’t actually own anyway), I looked through a few standard reference texts and scholarly works (Moulton & Milligan, ‘The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament’ (1930); Arndt, Danker & Bauer, ‘A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature’ (3rd ed. 2000); Penner & Stichele ‘Contextualizing Acts: Lukan Narrative and Greco-Roman Discourse’ (2003); Ascough, ‘Paul’s Macedonian Associations’, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2, volume 161 (2003), and have arranged the information I collected into the following dot points.

  • Greek writings; Homer (Iliad 24.362, 371, Odyssey 7.28, 48; 8.145, 408;17.553; 18.122; 20.199), Euripides (Iphigenia in Tauris 497–98), DiodorusSiculus (Bibliotheca Historica1.1.3, 17.37.6), Pausanias (Description of Greece8.48.5–6; 8.51.7), Dionysius Hallicarnassus (Roman Antiquities 12.1.8),Diogenes Laertius (Lives 8.1.22–23), Theon (Progymnasmata 3.93–97), andEpictetus (Discourses 3.22.82), among others

  • Roman writings; Phaedrus (Fables 3.15.18), Virgil (Aenead 9.297), Plutarch(Many Friends 2, Moralia 93E), Marcus Aurelius (Meditations 1.14), Lucretius(De Rerum Natura 3.9), as well as others such as Lucan, Cornelius Nepos,Sallust, Livy, and Cicero

  • Jewish writings; Sirach (2:1), 1 Maccabees (2:50, 64), Jubilees (21:21), 1Enoch (79:1; 83:1; 91:3–4; 92:1), Testament of Job (1:6; 5:1; 6:1), Testament ofReuben (1:3), Testament of Naphtili (4:1), Testament of Abraham (2:5B),Pseudo-Phocylides (220–22), as well as in Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum(1:xcv-xcvi; 1:66, §93; 1:250–51, §319; 1:360, §494; 1:372, §§508–9; 1:373,§510; 1:393, §533; 1:397, §535; 1:398, §537; 1:462, §645; 1:463, §646; 1:505,§694; 1:520, §720; 2:9, §739, 3:41 §479)

  • Papyri (P Tor I. 1i, P Par 42i, P Oxy IV. 744, P Oxy VI. 886, P Oxy VII. 1070,P Tebt II. 320), and inscriptions (Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae p. 60,reference by Ptolemy Euergetes to Berenice, Archiv für Papyrusforschung,volume 5, p. 164, Egyptian inscription during the reign of Augustus)

He also claimed that individuals who were fictive kin were so on the basis of being individually considered kin of the deity “in whom the fictive kinship is established”. This was the basis of his argument that “James the brother of Jesus” really means “James, the fictive kin of the god Jesus”. I addressed this point as well, thus.

The evidence from the first century religious associations is that individuals were in fact fictive kin specifically because they were members of the association; they were not fictive kin on the basis of being individually kin of a deity “in whom the fictive kinship is established”. Here’s an oft cited example:

“If any brother [adelfos] should wish to sell his share, the remaining brothersshould buy it. If the brothers [oi adelfoi] do not wish to buy the share, then letthem take the aforementioned cash, and let them withdraw from theassociation.” (IKilikiaBM 2 201, cited by Ascough, ‘Voluntary Associations and the Formation of Pauline Christian Communities’, in Gutsfeld & Koch,‘Vereine, Synagogen und Gemeinden im kaiserzeitlichen Kleinasien’, Studienund Texte zu Antike und Christentum, number 25, p. 161 (2006).


#10

Did he say anything about your lexical evidence? Or just whoosh?


(Luca) #11

@TimONeill I had no idea you were on this forum/Site!
Im a big fan of your quora page! Nice to see you on here! :smile:


(Jon) #12

That’s when he goes into “But I’ve already told you I’m right, why do you keep asking for evidence?” mode. It went like this.

Me: If we search a Greek corpus such as TLG, how many times do we find ‘X, thebrother of Y’ referring to fictive kinship?

RC (emphasis mine): Since you can’t tell if a ref. is fictive without extensive reading of the context of every relevant hit, that would be a task requiring many weeks of labor, and probably of no avail, since we have almost no literature that would use fictive kinship address; we mostly only have references to the existence of fictive kinship, not the formulas used.Epigraphy would be a better target of research here (assuming fictive kinship address is ever used there) and none of that is in the TLG.

Me: Many weeks of labour is what proper lexicographical methodology actually involves. Fortunately we have a head start; standard professional lexicons. A diachronic and synchronic analysis (standard lexicographical methodology when analysing disputed words and phrases), is a necessary first step here.Have you carried out a diachronic and synchronic analysis? When you say ‘we have almost no literature that would use fictive kinship address’, could you explain how you arrived at this conclusion? We have a large corpus of Jewish and Christian writings in which fictive kinship address would be found, which is relevant to a synchronic analysis at least. In terms of diachronic analysis, we can find the pattern ‘X, the brother of Y’ in the LXX (2 Kingdoms 36:10), in the New Testament (Mark 5:37), and Josephus (Life, 41.201). We find these are references to biological kinship. Which passages have you found using the pattern ‘X, the brother of Y’, as a reference to fictive kinship? If this is usage which was common among Christians, it will be easy to start piling up examples. If you want to restrict your analysis to epigraphy, then we could use Dittenberger (Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum), but I don’t see why we should restrict the search to epigraphy; we should use the largest corpus available.

RC: It seems you have a different aim in mind than I assumed. The issue is not mere fictive kinship (John is the fictive brother of Joe), but fictive kinship to a deity (John is the fictive brother of the Lord). It is the latter that I was referring to.If your objective is to find out if people fictively addressed each other that way, that’s a different task from finding out if Christians of Paul’s time addressed each other that way, much less that they used it in reference to kinship to the Lord. Later Christianity did not stress the adoption by god feature of the faith in the way Paul did, and they had a biological brothers tradition that mitigated against ever using the confusing structure “brother of the lord” fictively (that is precisely why it is strange to see Paul using it without qualification or explanation, so as to distinguish biological from adopted brothers of the lord). And the converse argument doesn’t hold: even if we never find an occasion when a specific sentence structure is used, that in no way means there was a taboo against it. Many an author uses unique phrases to say common things. That is what language is for: to construct concepts with words in the way you desire, and to understand grammar and vocabulary so as to understand what someone is saying when they do that. For example, we may have no recorded instance of the phrase “sister of the lord” but that finding would in no way entail it meant anything fundamentally different from “brother of the lord”; it just means no occasion to have used the phrase survives in extant literature. And note that that holds even when we interpret the phrase biologically (the gospels, after all, say Jesus had sisters, too).

Me: 1. My object was to determine whether or not you had attempted to discoverthe meaning of the phrase in question using standard lexicographicalmethodology (we know now you haven’t), and whether you had found anyexamples of the phrase attested with the meaning you suggest (we know nowyou haven’t).

  1. If the value of an asserted meaning for which there is evidence is x, then the value of an asserted meaning for which there is no evidence at all is definitely less than x, making it considerably less probable; ‘That which is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence’ (Hitchens), ‘Speculation in, speculation out’ (Carrier, on Bayesian analysis). We need evidence here, not speculation or mere assertion.

  2. You said ‘we have almost no literature that would use fictive kinship address’, but the facts are the opposite; we have a vast range of literature that used fictive kinship address,[1] including plenty in non-inscriptional literature(you haven’t explained why you said ‘Epigraphy would be a better target of research here’), and I expected you to know this.

  3. You said ‘we mostly only have references to the existence of fictive kinship,not the formulas used’, but the facts are the opposite; we have numerous examples of specific terminology, including words such as pathr, mhthr,adelfh/oV, adelfothV, teknoV, egennysa and various formulas.[2]

  4. I agree it would be strange to see Paul using a term without qualification or explanation if no one knew what he meant by it. In this case we have plenty of evidence that this term was used of biological kinship and would naturally be understood this way; the meaning which is attested by numerous examples is considerably more likely than the meaning which is attested by absolutely no examples at all.

  5. Since Christians had a fictive kinship tradition which used adelfoV repeatedly as a reference to spiritual rather than non-biological kinship, the use of the formula ‘X, the brother of Y’ (well attested as a reference to biological kinship), makes sense as a term differentiating James as biological rather than fictive kin.

  6. Therefore, the biological kinship meaning of ‘X, the brother of Y’ makes sense if Paul is referring to biological kinship (because this meaning is well attested and would disambiguate the reference in context), but the fictive kinship meaning of ‘X, the brother of Y’ does not make sense if Paul’s is referring to fictive kinship (because this meaning is not attested at all, and would confuse the audience if Paul used it ‘without qualification or explanation’). The matter here is not whether or not the fictive kinship meaning was taboo, but whether or not it was actually ever used at all; without any evidence that it was used, we cannot assert that it was.

  7. So we have a phrase for which two meanings are proposed. One of these meanings is attested strongly throughout the relevant literature, the other is not attested at all (that you have found). It is an extraordinary claim that the meaning for which there is no evidence is the correct meaning, and that the meaning for which there is copious evidence is not the correct meaning.Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; what do you have?


[1] See TLG, Perseus, the Duke Papyri, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, OrientisGraeci Inscriptiones Selectae, Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum, Archiv für Papyrusforschung, and Dittenberger, among other collections. To save time,instead of searching these resources directly (a couple of them I don’t actuallyo wn anyway), I looked through a few standard reference texts and scholarly works (Moulton & Milligan, ‘The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament’ (1930); Arndt, Danker & Bauer, ‘A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature’ (3rd ed. 2000); Penner & Stichele ‘Contextualizing Acts: Lukan Narrative and Greco-Roman Discourse’ (2003); Ascough, ‘Paul’s Macedonian Associations’, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2, volume 161 (2003), and have arranged the information I collected into the following dot points.

  • Greek writings; Homer (Iliad 24.362, 371, Odyssey 7.28, 48; 8.145, 408;17.553; 18.122; 20.199), Euripides (Iphigenia in Tauris 497–98), Diodorus Siculus (Bibliotheca Historica1.1.3, 17.37.6), Pausanias (Description of Greece 8.48.5–6; 8.51.7), Dionysius Hallicarnassus (Roman Antiquities 12.1.8),Diogenes Laertius (Lives 8.1.22–23), Theon (Progymnasmata 3.93–97), and Epictetus (Discourses 3.22.82), among others

  • Roman writings; Phaedrus (Fables 3.15.18), Virgil (Aenead 9.297), Plutarch(Many Friends 2, Moralia 93E), Marcus Aurelius (Meditations 1.14), Lucretius(De Rerum Natura 3.9), as well as others such as Lucan, Cornelius Nepos,Sallust, Livy, and Cicero

  • Jewish writings; Sirach (2:1), 1 Maccabees (2:50, 64), Jubilees (21:21), 1Enoch (79:1; 83:1; 91:3–4; 92:1), Testament of Job (1:6; 5:1; 6:1), Testament of Reuben (1:3), Testament of Naphtili (4:1), Testament of Abraham (2:5B), Pseudo-Phocylides (220–22), as well as in Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum (1:xcv-xcvi; 1:66, §93; 1:250–51, §319; 1:360, §494; 1:372, §§508–9; 1:373,§510; 1:393, §533; 1:397, §535; 1:398, §537; 1:462, §645; 1:463, §646; 1:505,§694; 1:520, §720; 2:9, §739, 3:41 §479)

  • Papyri (P Tor I. 1i, P Par 42i, P Oxy IV. 744, P Oxy VI. 886, P Oxy VII. 1070,P Tebt II. 320), and inscriptions (Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae p. 60,reference by Ptolemy Euergetes to Berenice, Archiv für Papyrus forschung,volume 5, p. 164, Egyptian inscription during the reign of Augustus)

RC: Your reasoning is invalid. As I explained, one would not necessarily have occasion to say “x is brother of y” in fictive contexts unless y was a deity. Because one does not become a fictive brother because one is the brother of some random member of a fraternal society.One becomes a fictive brother because one is a brother of the Lord in whom the fictive kinship is established. In other words, we have no similar contexts to compare. This is obvious when you look at your own examples: they simply aren’t similar contexts at all. For example, Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica 1.1.3 says:

It has been the aspiration of these writers to marshal all men, who, although united one to another by their kinship,are yet separated by space and time, into one and the same orderly body.

He isn’t even talking about any specific person. So why would you expect him to use the “x is brother of y” formula here? It would make zero sense to. Therefore this is an irrelevant example. It is also irrelevant because this is not the same kind of fictive kinship. He is referring to a literal kinship: all men are related (this is not a kinship one has to join, i.e. it is not a fraternity like a mystery cult or Christianity, it is rather a universal fact of all human beings). In one of the most common legends, we are all literally kin because we all literally descend from the original man created by Prometheus; and in philosophy (e.g. Stoicism) all men are literally brothers, not fictively albeit in a different way than usual, because God creates all men by fashioning them in the womb and bestowing on them reason (a fragment of God, literally his seed, i.e. divine sperm). Needless to say, this bears no analogy to Paul’s context, where one is a brother of “the Lord” (i.e. the cult’s deity) only if one has been adopted by God the same way “the Lord” was (and men are only“brothers” if they are thereby “brothers of the Lord”). The passage in Diodorus bears no parallel whatsoever. The same follows for every other example. This just isn’t a useful way to argue and is a waste of research time. Exactly as I said.

Me: “The analogy is invalid because Josephus doesn’t say brother “of the Lord” and isn’t speaking to a cult who believes its every member isthe brother of the Lord.”

But you’re just making that up. Regardless, your claim doesn’t address the fact under discussion; Josephus is an example of what a 1st century Jewish reader would have understood by the phrase ‘X,the brother of Y’. It also demonstrates that as early as Josephus there was a tradition that Jesus had a biological brother, which is positive evidence for the historicist position and negative evidence against the mytherist position.

Let’s remember the key issue here; you are asserting for a Greek phrase, a meaning for which you have not provided any evidence at all. Not only that, you have also stated openly that you haven’t even looked for such evidence. That which is asserted without evidence,can be dismissed without evidence (Hitchens). Speculation in,speculation out (Carrier). It’s that simple. The fact is we have examples from the 2nd century BCE through to the end of the 1st century CE of how the phrase ‘X, the brother of Y’was used. In all these cases it is used to refer to biological kinship. You are claiming that we should ignore all this evidence and understand the phrase with a meaning which is unattested in any of the relevant Greek literature. Do you understand that this is not standard professional lexicographical procedure?

RC [this is where he says "Why do you keep asking for evidence when I have already told you I am right?]: Fortigum, I am not making anything up. Everything I stated is a demonstrable fact. And your standards for how we interpret the Greek language make no sense. They also ignore everything I’ve said about this in this thread. Conversing with you appears to be impossible.

Me: “Fortigum, I am not making anything up. Everything I stated is a demonstrable fact.”

Excellent, then you’ll be able to demonstrate it by providing evidence for your claims.

  1. Please show me all the texts you have found in which the phrase‘X, the brother of Y’ occurs with the meaning of fictive kinship.

  2. Please show me all the texts you have found in which the Christians use ‘X, the brother of the Lord’.
    These are not unreasonable requests; if there is evidence for your claims, I’m sure you’ll be able to present it. We already saw that these claims of yours were wrong:

  • “we have almost no literature that would use fictive kinship address;” (we have a huge amount of literature that used fictive kinship address)

  • “we mostly only have references to the existence of fictive kinship,not the formulas used” (there are lists of well documented fictive kinship terms and formulas)

  • “we have many instances of people mentioning or talking about it but very few people addressing each other with it” (we have many instance of people addressing each other with fictive kinship terms)

“And your standards for how we interpret the Greek language make no sense.”

Evidence please. I am saying that when you assert a meaning for a specific phrase, you need to have lexical evidence that this is what it means. Why do you object to this?

When numerous examples of the phrase in question can be found with meaning X, and you are asserting that the occurrence in question means Y, you need evidence for your claim. Remember what Hitchens said about evidence? When you insist on this claim despite the fact that there are no examples of it ever being used with meaning Y, what makes you think you are doing professional lexicography?

When you assert a meaning without evidence, and there’s another meaning with multiple attestation, which meaning is more likely to have been used? Should I just accept your claim without evidence?
If I took your claim to several professional Greek scholars and lexicographers, what do you think they would say?

RC [he was clearly completely out of ideas and excuses by this point]: You are badly confused, Fortigum. If you can’t even follow the train of thought in this comment thread, there is no point arguing with you. Case in point, when I said “Everything I stated is a demonstrable fact” the comment we were referring to was this: “The analogy is invalid because Josephus doesn’t say brother “of the Lord” and isn’t speaking to a cult who believes its every member is the brother of the Lord.” All of that is demonstrably true, and not made up. Contrary to your claim that it was. Trying to pull fallacies on me like moving the goal posts, non sequitur, argument by assertion, and other nonsense, is wasting my time and yours.

The rest is here. It doesn’t get any better for him.


#13

What a pain the guy is. Anyhow, I wonder if you could help me. I was just going over some things and I ran into Ken Olson’s study on the TF. Are you aware of any scholarly responses to this study?


(Jon) #14

I am not familiar with it.