Friday, October 12, 2007

What about this scenario?

I'm still thinking about the Jerusalem Council because I would like to finally make sense of this thing. I'll be brief. What about this?

1. Jerusalem Church had a mission to the Gentiles. The desirable conversion was with circumcision although some leniency with regard to food laws (Peter). But there were some who wanted to remain uncircumcised (Stephen). The center of this mission becomes Antioch, but it was a satellite of Jerusalem remaining under its watchful eye. This uncircumcised mission is never safe. It has problems from the beginning and brought about Stephen's martyrdom and the persecution of Christians which Saul took part in.

2. Paul becomes part of this mission after a revelatory experience. When he goes to Jerusalem the first time, he meets with Peter and James (Galatians 1:18-20).

3. The persecution of the uncircumcised mission continues (cf. Galatians 2:4). So Paul makes a second trip to Jerusalem initiated by a revelatory experience to discuss the mission with Peter and James. He takes Titus. And it is agreed that Paul could continue his mission to the uncircumcised, while Peter spearheaded the mission to the circumcised (Galatians 2:1-10).

4. Peter is arrested and James son of Zebedee is killed (Acts 12:1-3). This may be the result of a continued persecution of the Christians for supporting a mission to the uncircumcised. So James finally makes a ruling that the Gentiles must be circumcised and he sends envoys to Antioch to carry this out (Acts 15.1-3; cf. Galatians 6:12-13).

5. When the envoy arrives after Peter gets there (Galatians 2:11-14), there is a dispute over tablefellowship and circumcision (the circumcision party is "feared"). Paul cannot understand the decision from Jerusalem and finds Peter's behavior that of a hypocrite.

6. Paul becomes his own missionary to Asian and Grecian churches.

7. James is forced to make a ruling on food laws now, which he does (in Paul's absence) (Acts 21:25; Acts 15). James never rules that the Gentiles don't need to be circumcised. This is the Jerusalem Council.

8. James sends missionaries out to the Antiochean mission churches in Asia and Greece, to circumcise the Gentiles and relate the Noahide ruling. Paul combats this.

9. James writes the epistle of James and sends it out to the churches to combat Paul.

10. Exhausted, Paul realizes that he cannot do this alone. So he collects money for the Jerusalem Church and makes his way to Jerusalem where he ends up causing a riot because of the perception that he says that Jews don't need to be circumcised. And he is carted off to Rome eventually.


Ralph Hitchens said...

Looks like a good scenario on which to conclude a very interesting and thought-provoking series of posts and ripostes. James's ruling on the food laws left some ambiguity re. table fellowship, which may well have confused Peter along with others. Also, it sounds like the Jerusalem Council (such as it was) might have explicitly ignored -- in the interest of a unity facade -- the elephant in the room that was circumcision. Certainly James, in Acts 15, doesn't sound like the xenophobic Jew that Robert Eisenman (among others) believe him to have been. However, as someone who admires the Epistle of James I am reluctant to conclude that he deliberately instigated the strict "Jewish Christianity" countermission to the gentile mission churches against which Paul struggled. said...

I have to suspect that the Synagogue of Freedmen (Acts 6.9) was in fact in Rome (where else), and that the Pauline editors saw this as the source of the earliest 'Christian' expansion - a Synagogue of Freedmen sounds like a place where the prophetic proclamation of the Spirit could take root. Hence the Pauline editors made members of this Synagogue opponents to their fictitious Gentile character Stephen. The story of Stephen is part and parcel of the fictitious mission to Gentiles.

Bob MacDonald said...

I am too out of touch with the NT after a year in the psalms - but the notion of completeness is not absent in them. The completeness / perfection of Abraham - to shortcut - perhaps short-circuit - the NT dissension, is through the circumcision accomplished in the cross by Jesus. For James not to have known this image means explaining away his pivotal use of 'complete' in his letter and its relation to the overarching aspect of trials and gifts. He says nothing of circumcision but he treats Abraham and his work in relation to the aqedah. Why would he not refer to the sign in the flesh? 'And this is the work you are called to, to accept as he did, the mark of the flesh that marks you as of God's people.' I can't imagine James writing this when he almost confirms Paul's use of Abraham in Romans.

I have no problem with the apostolic decree including the text not requiring circumcision of Gentiles. It makes very little sense without it. I confess though that the last time I looked at was several years ago when reading John Hurd's work on 1 Corinthians and his note about Paul having to backpedal a bit on all things are lawful. (You have readers who don't comment much - maybe I will meet you at SBL.) said...

Once you realise that there was no early mission to Gentiles you can begin to clear away much of the fog in Acts. Stand back and you see that more than the first third of Acts is a deliberate attempt by the Pauline editor to give the impression that there was such a mission. A large chunk of Acts can be removed at a stroke. Thus all the stories surrounding Peter, Stephen and Philip are pure fabrication, although as Eisenman has pointed out, in effect, in the case of Stephen, the editors were not averse to using real events from other stories to compile their fiction - a fiction which runs right up to the end of Chapter 12. Also, most of the multitude of place names (such as Perga and Antioch) used to support the idea of a mission to Gentiles are all a part of the fiction that included the three missionary journeys attributed to Paul and the places he was supposed to have visited.

Acts only really gets going in Chapter 13 where ‘the two’ are sent off. It is now clear why the ‘seven’ were appointed to ‘wait on’ the Spirit or lead the daily prayers of those left behind. ‘The two’ were now free to go to Jerusalem to proclaim the Spirit there. This was the start of the first ‘missionary’ journey, but it was to the Jews of Jerusalem, not Gentiles. As I have written previously, at the end of chapter 13, ‘the two’ were in Jerusalem proclaiming the Spirit in the temple.

And they were still in Jerusalem (not Gentile Iconium) going ‘as usual’ into the temple (not the editor’s Jewish synagogue – what other kind of synagogue was there, if not Jewish?) in 14.1.

Acts was originally a much smaller document.

Frank McCoy said...

While there is much of historical value in Acts, creating scenarios trying to harmonize Paul's writing with Luke's narrative in Acts is a waste of time because Luke places a lower priority on historical accuracy than on achieving the two objectives of (1) discrediting the mother and brothers of Jesus and (2)elevating Peter and Paul above everyone else and having them disagree on nothing.

He begins his project of achieving these two objectives at the expense of historical accuracy in Luke 8:1-3, 19-21. Here, he lists, in order, (1) the Twelve, (2) some women who accompanied them, (3) the mother of Jesus and (4) the brother of Jesus.

This is hierarchical. At the top are the Twelve, next come some women, under them is the mother of Jesus and at the bottom of the social order are the brothers of Jesus. This relegating of the mother and brother of Jesus to the bottom is justified, by Luke, by him having Jesus proclaim that his true mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.

He repeats the same hierarchy of the Twelve, some women, the mother of Jesus and the brothers of Jesus in Acts 1:12-14. This is deliberate, to demonstrate that in the Jerusalem Assembly the mother of Jesus and his brothers were at the bottom of the hierarchy and this is because Jesus himself rejected them back in Luke 8, making them marginal, almost outcast, members of the group.

Further, here he lists Peter first of all, thereby implying that Peter was the head of the Jerusalem Assembly. Second-in-command is John the son of Zebedee and third in command is James the son of Zebedee. Ninth in the list is another James: the son of Alphaeus.

Next, in Acts 12:2, he has James the son of Zebedee being executed.

Next, in Acts 12:17, as Peter departs Jerusalem, he,in effect, appoints the other James (i.e., the son of Alphaeus) to be the leader in his absence--thereby making this James the second-in-command, with only Peter above him, and relegating John to third in command. So, we now have three pillars named Peter, James and John and in this order in the hierarchy.

Then, in Acts 15:1-29, we get a change in the hierarchy. Peter speaks first, so he is the top dog. Next, Barnabas and Paul speak. Luke lists Barnabas first in 12 and Paul first in 22, so he pictures them as being equals. In any event, they are next in the hierarchy after Peter. Finally, James speaks, demoting him to under Barnabas and Paul. He basically rubber-stamps what Peter said, just adding the suggestion that Gentile believers should obey a few Noachian laws. This sounded good to everyone, including Peter and Paul, and, so, the whole Assembly went along with the proposal of Peter and the amendment to it proposed by James the son of Alphaeus. At this point, the order of the hierarchy is Peter, Paul/Barnabas, James the son of Alphaeus and John the son of Zebedee.

Then, in 15:36-40, Paul and Barnabas split and Paul appoints Silas to be his subordinate. In this fashion, Luke has Paul becoming firmly established as the next-in-command after Peter, with Barnabas losing his status in the hierarchy.

Finally, in 21:17-25, Paul speaks to the Jerusalem Assembly. Peter is absent, so James the son of Alphaeus acts as its leader. However, he is passive and it is the Assembly as a whole that makes a decision about what Paul needs to do. This is because Luke has this James under Paul in the hierarchy (with Paul the second in command and this James the third in command), so he personally cannot order Paul to do anything--only the whole Assembly can.

The bottom line: in Luke-Acts, Luke carries out an agenda of portraying the mother and brothers of Jesus as being the lowest of the low in the Jerusalem Assembly due to them being rejected by Jesus. The top dog is Peter and, by the end of Acts 15, Paul has risen in the hierarchy to be the next in command and the third in command is James the son of Alphaeus. Peter and Paul never disagree on anything. Indeed, in 15, they are in perfect harmony. At one point, there were three pillars named Peter, James and John, with Peter being their leader and the James being a son of Alphaeus.

This is not history. This is not even close to history, where the actual leader of the Jerusalem Assembly was a brother of Jesus named James and Paul and Peter did not get along well and were not in perfect harmony when it came to theological issues. There were three pillars named Peter, James and John, but their leader was James rather than Peter and this James was the brother of Jesus rather than the son of Alphaeus.

So, in places like Acts 15 and Acts 21:17-25, we must treat the text as a big fairy tale fabricated by Luke to serve his agendas at the expense of history. By their very nature, then, they are not harmonizable with events related by Paul in his genuine works. said...

The extant text of Acts reveals a later superimposed agenda of a mission to Gentiles. As a part of that agenda, the pseudo issue of circumcision is substituted for the real longstanding Jewish issue of animal sacrifice.

When we get to Acts 14, the Pauline editor is at his most imaginative. In 14.1 he can’t wait to inform the reader that there were Gentiles with Jews in the synagogue at ‘Iconium’.

Strangely, the temple at ‘Iconium‘ is ‘just outside’ the ‘city’ (14.13). So what was on the editor’s mind, if not a temple ‘just inside’ a ‘city’, as at Jerusalem. We have a classic editor’s reversal.

The ‘priest of Zeus’ ‘brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them’ (14.13), ‘them’ being ‘the two’ . If you were a betting person, you might well think the editor had before him original text that ran: The HIGH priest brought bulls and lambs to the temple because HE WANTED THE CROWD to offer sacrifices to GOD. Thus the Pauline editor made three more reversals.

Knowing the editor’s penchant for reversals, no doubt ‘the two’ said to the crowd “We too are JEWS like you.” (14.15). If you suppose that ‘the crowd’ were Jews of Jerusalem, why would the high priest be pressing ‘the crowd’ to offer sacrifices to God if that’s what all Jews did as a matter of course? Well what did ‘the two’ say to ‘the crowd’ when they realised that animals had been brought to the temple for sacrifice? As Dr Luke was not on the scene, one of ‘the two’ said and later wrote: “We are telling you to turn from these worthless things” (14.15). So again it would be a fair bet to believe that ‘these worthless things’ (undefined by the Pauline editor) were the animal sacrifices that were being proposed by the priest who more than likely was none other than the High Priest of Jerusalem. ‘The two’ wanted ‘the crowd’ to turn to ‘the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.’ (14.15). For Jews, the creation was wrought by the Spirit of God. Thus ‘the two’ were telling the ‘crowd’ to turn from worthless animal sacrifices as a means of cleansing to the Spirit of God.

It would appear that ‘the two’ persuaded ‘the crowd’ not to sacrifice - it was probably they who ‘won the crowd over’ (14.19). ‘The crowd’ had probably shouted in Aramaic (not Lycaonian, 14.11) “The Spirit of God has come down to us in (I suggest) Simon and James.”

The editor’s story about Jews from Antioch causing a dramatic change in the attitude of ‘the crowd’ from adulation of ‘the two’ to murderous intent is incredulous. (14.19,20). If Jews from Antioch had murderous intent, it seems very strange that the Pauline editor had his Paul go back to Antioch. (14.26). The places in 14.20-26 are all a part of the myth of a mission to Gentiles.

‘The two’ went straight back to Rome. 14.27, I would suggest was: ‘we reported all that God had done through HIS SPIRIT, and how he had opened the hearts of THE JEWS to the Spirit’ (not the editor's 'door of faith to the Gentiles'). The issue of sacrifice was to be the context of the confrontation in Acts 15.

假先知假使徒 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
假先知假使徒 said...

Hello, Prof. DeConick,

I'm a student of religious studies in Taiwan, and I found your blog 6 months ago while I was looking for the information about Christian mysticism for my dissertation. I'd like to apologize for my English first. I'll try to explain my opinion in English, although, I may make some stupid English errors. I swear, after this, I'll study English more earnestly. :)

I'd like to assume that the conclusion of the so called 'Jerusalem Council' is some kind of pseudonymous since that Paul seemed to know nothing about the letter of the resolution and the author of Acts didn't care about the work division between Paul and Peter mentioned in the epistle of Paul. It doesn't mean that there's no such council (What's the definition of the word 'council'?). I just want to say, the result of the so called 'council' could be ambiguous and the both side may have each own explanation. We can't take the content of the conversations in Acts too seriously.

It could be possible that the auther of the pseudo-letter had read the epistle of Galatians and illuminated by the idea of 'two-wives-analogy' on the contrary. The letter was so popular that it circulated in the gentile Christian communions. Anyway, the author of Acts knew the letter and wanted to combine it into his work. He got to invent most parts of the conversation between Paul and the other apostles himself to legalize the position of the gentiles in the communion.(I think that this is the principle that he's going to reach in the whole work.) That's why Luke kept on telling about the Holy Spirit and the letter in the Acts. The work of Holy Spirit legalize the evangelical preaching and procure the result the council of the apostles in Jerusalem. The letter is the final peak of the controversy, and it provides a new platform for both side -- backward to the testament of Noah.

However, we still don't know what's the resolution of the so called 'Jerusalem Council'. I doubt it, because we can't define the authority, enforceability and universality of the so called 'council'. We even don't know if there's a 'written dogma' existed. Did the Christian communion idea, different from the Jewish synagogue, exist that early? Or did the apostle know the importance of consistency of theologies and try to solidify them by a single
creed? In one word, the conception of 'council' may be a too modern word for the apostles or Paul to use it. Paul didn't mention any 'The-creed-that-we-agreed-xx-years-ago' things, didn't he? Maybe we can only say that, about the council, we have the one-side-explanation from Paul and a harmonized attempt from Luke or the author of the 'letter'.

en-lin Huang said...

If in Acts 14, the Pauline editor turned the Jewish high priest into the Priest of Zeus, who did he turn into the nondescript ‘crowd’ - 'the crowd' that the two were trying to dissuade from sacrificing? Who was responsible for the sacrifices in the temple, if not the course of priests on duty? Thus in 14.15, ‘the two’ Jews speaking to Jewish priests would have said: “We too are priests like you”. ‘The two’ were descended from the priests. And 14.27 would become: ‘We reported all that God had done through HIS SPIRIT, and how he had opened the HEARTS of THE PRIESTS to the Spirit’. This would have really raised the ire of the High Priests seeking to maintain the temple cult and its revenues.

Frank McCoy said...

Luke, when writing Acts 15, did utilize some source material. But, since he is fabricating a Jerusalem Assembly meeting that didn't happen, he mis-uses this source material.

This is illustrated in Acts 15:13-21, a speech attributed to someone named James--the heart of which is the citation of Amos 9:11-12.

Among the followers of Jesus, two quite different interpretations of this passage from Amos were circulating.

The first underlies Romans 1:3b-4--where Paul states, "Having come from the seed of David according to flesh; having been designated Son of God in power according to a Spirit of holiness out of a rising (anastasews) from the dead: Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

What Paul states here readily relates to three of the four scriptural passages found in one section of 4Q 174: (1) The first part of Romans 1:3b-4, “Having come from the seed of David according to flesh”, relates to the first of these four scriptural passages cited in this section of 4Q174, i.e., 2 Sam. 7:11c, “I will raise up your (i.e., David’s) seed after you”—for each speaks of an individual who will be from the seed of David (2) The second part of Romans 1:3b-4, “Having been designated Son of God in power according to a Spirit of holiness”, relates to the second of these four scriptural passages cited in this section of 4Q 174, i.e., 2 Sam. 7:13, “[I will be] his father and he shall be my son”—for each speaks of this individual as being, in some meaningful sense, a Son of God, and (3) The third part of Romans 1:3b-4, “Out of a rising (anastasews) from the dead”, relates to the fourth of these four scriptural passages cited in this section of 4Q174, i.e., Amos 9:11, “I will raise up the tent of David that is fallen”—for each refers to the rising/raising up of an individual (In 4Q174 the “tent of David” that will “fall” and then “arise” is identified as being an individual—for it contains the statement, “That is to say, the fallen tent of David is he who shall arise to save Israel.”)

Note these two differences between an original Essene interpretation of Amos 9:11 and the interpretation underlying Romans 1:3b-4: (1) In Romans 1:3b-4, the subject of Amos 9:11 is taken to be Jesus as Christ and our Lord, but, in the excerpt from 4Q174, this subject is taken to be the Branch of David=the Prince of the congregation and (2) In Romans 1:3b-4, the subject is fallen in the sense of being slain and rises up in the sense of rising up from the dead, but, in the excerpt from 4Q174, this subject is fallen in the sense of having a lowly station in life and rises up in the sense of being elevated to the lofty status of ruler over Israel.
What we find in Romas 1:3b-4 appears to a pre-Pauline stage in the interpretation of Amos 9:11—for Romans 1:3b-4 is quite un-Pauline ( To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence that Paul ever utilized a DSS document in the manner that 4Q174 appears to have been utilized by the initial author of what we find in Romans 1:3b-4b. Also, the emphasis of Romans 1:3b-4b on the Davidic descent of Jesus is not characteristically Pauline. Finally, it is un-Pauline in that no salvific significance is given to the death and resurrection of Jesus.). So, it appears, Romans 1:3b-4 is a pre-Pauline credo that is cited by Paul—presumably because the Roman church, to whom he was writing, was already familiar with it and accepted its validity.

The second interpretation of Amos 9:11(-12) circulating among followers of Jesus underlies John 2:19-22, “Answered Jesus, and said to them (i.e., the Jews), ‘Destroy this sanctuary (naon) and in three days I will raise (egerw) it.’ Said, then, the Jews, ‘This sanctuary (naos) was built (oikodomethe) in 46 years—and you will raise (egereis) it in three days?’ But that one was speaking about the sanctuary (naou) of his body. Therefore, when he was raised (egerthe) from the dead, his disciples remembered this that he was saying and the believed the scripture and the word which Jesus said.”

Here: (1) “the word which Jesus said” is this, “Destroy this sanctuary (naon) and in three days I will raise (egerw) it.” and (2) “the scripture” means “the scriptural basis for the word which Jesus said”.

What is this scriptural basis?—for there is nothing in the Jewish scriptures that speaks of the destruction and the raising of a sanctuary (naos).

However, two considerations enable us to find the primary scriptural passage behind the word of Jesus: (1)the sanctuary (naos) was the inner part of Herod’s temple (hieron), the Holy Place accessible only to priests, and it corresponded to the wilderness skene (tent or tabernacle) (2)in the saying by the Jews (i.e., “This sanctuary (naos) was built (oikodomethe) in 46 years—and you will raise (egereis) it in three days?”), “will raise (egereis) the sanctuary (naos) in three days” means, in effect, “will rebuild (anoikodomesw) it in three days.” (So, in the Gospel of John (p. 125), Rudolph Bultmann freely renders the last part of the “word” of Jesus as, “I will (re-) build it in three days!).

What these two considerations suggest is that the primary scriptural passage upon which the “word” of Jesus is based regards not the raising of a naos (sanctuary) but, rather, the rebuilding of a skene (tent/tabernacle).

Indeed, there is a scriptural passage which does regard the rebuilding of a skene (tent/tabernacle)—and this is Amos 9:11-12 as rendered in Acts 15:16-18, “I will rebuild (anoikodomesw) the skenen (tent/tabernacle) of David, the one having fallen, and the things of it having been torn down I will rebuild (anoikodomesw) and I will restore it, so that the ones remaining of men might seek out the Lord—and all the Gentiles upon whom my name has been invoked over them, says the Lord doing these things—known from the ages.”

So, I propose, Amos 9:11-12, as rendered in Acts 15:16-18, is the scriptural passage which is the primary basis for the “word” of Jesus, i.e., the saying, “Destroy this sanctuary (naon) and in three days I will raise (egerw) it.”

In this case, in John 2:19-22, the interpretation of Amos 9:11-12 as rendered in Acts 15:16-18 is this: (1)the Lord doing these things is Jesus and he is, as such, a pre-existent divine being “known from the ages”, (2)the skene (tent/tabernacle) of David is the naos (temple) and this, in turn, is the body of Jesus, (3) it is fallen in the sense that it has been “destroyed”, i.e., slain, by the Jews. and (4)it will be rebuilt in the sense that it will be raised up from the dead by the Lord, i.e., Jesus.

The underlying thought appears to be that Jesus is a pre-existing divine being who became incarnate in the skene (tent/tabernacle) of David, i.e., in a fleshly body that is of the seed of David. (Compare John 1:14a, “And the Word became flesh and eskenwsen (tented/tabernacled) among us.” That is to say, the Word, a pre-existent divine being, became incarnate in the skene (tent/tabernacle) of David, i.e., in a fleshly body that is of the seed of David). Further, when his fleshly body was slain, he continued to exist and raised it from the dead in three days (Compare John 10:18b, "I have the power to lay it (i.e., my life) down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I received from my Father.").

So, there were two interpretations of Amos 9:11(-12) circulating among followers of Jesus. In the one underlying Romas 1:3b-4, Jesus is the tent of David and he falls in the sense of being slain and he is raised in the sense of being resurrected from the dead--presumably by God. In the other, underlying John 2:19-22, Jesus is the Word and his body is the tent of David and it falls in the sense of being slain it is raised in the sense of being resurrected from the dead--this being done by Jesus as this Word.

A BIG problem with the speech in Acts 15:13-21 is that it takes the Lord of Amos 9:11-12 to be God. This is in accord with the first interpretation, where God raises Jesus, the fallen (i.e., slain) tent of David, from the dead. However, the version of Amos 9:11-12 that is cited is the one underlying the second interpretation, in which this Lord is Jesus as the Logos. Further, this is a unique version of Amos 9:11-12, specially designed to support the second interpretation.

My judgment: Luke had a source which included the unique version of Amos 9:11-12 specially fitted to match the second interpretation, but Luke didn't know this. So, when creating the speech in Acts 15:13-21, he assumed the validity of the first interpretation, but unwittingly used the unique version of Amos 9:11-12 specially designed to support the second interpretation, thereby creating a "seam" in this speech.

The bottom line: I think this speech is a creation of Luke and reflects his own views rather than that of any James prominent in the Jerusalem Jesus Assembly in the period of 40-60 CE. said...

So it seems in Acts 13 and 14, that ‘the two’ (probably WE) had gone to Jerusalem and persuaded ‘the crowd’ (some priests) to give up animal sacrifices for sins and come over to the Spirit. For ‘the two’ to have achieved that, they must have been held in high esteem by many of the priests and thus well able to stand their ground against the High Priests. For the High Priests, it was one thing for ‘the two’ to persuade a few ordinary Jews to obey the Spirit, but quite another to persuade the priests to cease sacrificing, and that for all in Jerusalem to know. It was time to send in the heavies against these two renegade prophets for a showdown in Rome, a place the High Priests were quite familiar with. This was to be no convivial Church Council (Church business meetings rarely are convivial). The confrontation was to be in the Jewish community of Rome, quite possibly in that Synagogue of Freedmen which ‘the two’ could have attended as citizens of Rome and thus ‘freed’ men.

And so, 15.1 starts with ‘some men’ or ‘certain men’ – a sure indication that the Pauline editor had before him who they were, and removed their identity. They ‘came down from Judea’, supposedly ‘to Antioch’ of the fictitious Gentile mission. ‘Down to’ was commonly used in connection with a journey to Rome. For my money, the ‘men’ were probably the High Priests Ananias and Caiaphus and the sons of Ananias including the hot-headed Ananus, James’ eventual nemesis. Thus they were not the fictitious members of any supposed Jerusalem Church. This was more like a visit from the Mafia. According to the Pauline editor, the ‘men’ were teaching the brothers that ‘unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses you cannot be saved’. The reader is meant to assume therefore that ‘the brothers’ were Gentiles. Now Moses may have continued the custom of circumcision, but it was introduced long before Moses came on the biblical scene. ‘The brothers’ were of course Jews who were already circumcised, and they were being taught that ‘unless you SACRIFICE according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be CLEANSED. Gentiles were not a consideration and the original document was written entirely in a Jewish milieu. Original Acts was one of a number of documents produced by the prophets in exile.

15.2 has: ‘this brought Paul and Barnabas (the Pauline editor’s fictitious Paul and Barnabas, probably US in the original) into sharp dispute and debate with them’ (‘them’ being ‘some men’). Now ‘sharp dispute’ really does sound like a no holds barred Church meeting, only here there was real murderous intent on the part of the visitors. So don’t believe everyone was going to calm down and re-convene a later meeting in Jerusalem at which some higher church authority could make some rational decisions. All the folk who mattered were already present in Rome, face to face in the synagogue. Thus 15.2b thru 15.11 is fabricated interpolation for the fictitious mission to Gentiles.

The ‘dispute’ continued at 15.12 when the ‘whole assembly’ (synagogue), ‘became silent as they listened’ supposedly to ‘Barnabas’ and ‘Paul’ Note that the order of names is reversed from that in 15.2. I suggest that the first speaker was Simon brother of James, not the fictitious Barnabas (nor, as the Pauline editor would have it, was the first speaker the fictitious Peter of 15.7). Simon explained about the signs and wonders God had done among the PROPHETS (not ‘the Gentiles’) through the Spirit (not ‘them’). He was recalling God’s visitations to the prophets by his Spirit (the clue is in 15.14), possibly going back to times before Moses.

So, in 15.13, it wasn’t a question of when ‘they had finished’, but when HE had finished, that is when Simon had finished. Then the Pauline editor let slip who the next speaker was with the words ‘James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to ME” ’ where I suspect the autobiographical original in the first person was ‘I spoke up’.

15.14 is critical. It is a verse all the translators struggle with – a fairly good indication that something important was being garbled. James piped up: “Simon has described how God at first showed his concern” - other translations have ‘at first visited’. James was of course referring to his brother’s speech of 15.12 about what God had done among the prophets through his Spirit when God at first visited the earth. The Pauline editor would have us believe that James was referring to the speech (15.7-11) of the fictitious first speaker Peter at the fictitious Jerusalem Council. 15.14b (from ‘by taking’) to 15.18 is the Pauline editor’s interpolation in support of the fictitious mission to Gentiles.

15.19 and 15.20 have been garbled to support the editor’s view that the Gentiles should be permitted to forego the requirement of circumcision, but should, as Jews normally would, ‘ABSTAIN from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood’. The Greek for ‘abstain’ can mean ‘to hold one’s self off’ or ‘refrain’. The Bible in Basic English has: ‘keep themselves from’. Douay Rheims has: ‘refrain themselves from’. James had sufficient authority to be able to say: “It is MY judgment, therefore, that we should TELL (not ‘not make it difficult for’ - ‘telling’ is explicit in 15.20) the PRIESTS (not ‘the Gentiles’) who are turning to the SPIRIT (not ‘God’) to REFRAIN from SACRIFICE (not ‘food polluted by idols’ etc.). The pre-editorial issue was the High Priest’s concern about the prophets encouraging the priests to stop animal sacrifices in favour of obeying and receiving the Spirit as a means of cleansing.

There was no meeting in Antioch, and there was no subsequent Jerusalem Council. There was a first journey from Rome to Jerusalem by the prophets James and his brother Simon, ‘the two’, who were sons of Judas. There was a subsequent confrontation in Rome between the High Priests from Jerusalem and the prophets James and Simon living in exile. said...

The Synagogue of Freedmen was probably a Synagogue of Essenes or prophets (see Philo, Every Good man is Free, 75-89). Essenes rejected animal sacrifices. (see 75). The house in Acts 1 was no doubt an Essene House.

Essenes can only be the prophets. (see Philo, Hypothetica 11.1) said...

The original (pre-Pauline) issue surrounding cleansing was the entirely Jewish one of sacrifices versus the Spirit. There was no original mission to Gentiles.

The Pauline issues of circumcision and the law were introduced later when Gentiles were introduced to the cult of Jesus.

Thus much of the theological content of Galations goes in recovering what was a short letter to the Galation synagogue of Rome. Then one can begin to reconcile Acts 15 with Galations. There was only one journey to Jerusalem before the second fatal journey that led to the death of James. said...

Reconciliation of Acts 13, 14 and 15 with Galations 1 and 2

Gal.1.13-24 (an account of Paul’s conversion to be the missionary to the Gentiles) is a fabrication and interpolation of its Pauline editor. One of the greatest dissimulations of the NT has to be 1.19 – ‘I saw none of the other apostles, only James the Lord’s brother’. It is followed by the tell-tale remark of the guilty editor supposedly written by his fictitious character Paul – ‘I assure you before God, that what I am writing to you is no lie’. (1.20) The editor’s purpose was to have James located in Jerusalem, when James was in fact exiled in Rome. The editor’s primary literary purpose of 1.13-24 was to separate Paul, his created missionary promoting the Jesus cult to Gentiles, from James who was really only concerned with Jewish prophetic matters of the Spirit and his rejection of animal sacrifices. The editor then had the gall to adapt and expand James’ original short letter to Jewish Galations in Rome, to appear as though written by his character Paul to Galations including Gentiles in Asia Minor.

Thus Paul’s so-called first journey to Jerusalem (1.18) was fictitious. And Paul’s so-called second journey to Jerusalem (Gal.2.1) was In reality James’ first journey to Jerusalem as in the original text of Acts 13,14 and 15 – text that was subsequently garbled. And Gal.2.1 should be: ‘Fourteen years AGO (not later) I went up (not ‘again’, i.e. it was the first time) to Jerusalem (hence not ‘this time’) with SIMON (not the fictitious Barnabas). This was the first journey of ‘the two’ to Jerusalem. So James wrote (Gal.2.2): “I went in response to AN INVITATION (not ‘a revelation’), and set before THE HIGH PRIESTS (not the nondescript ‘them’) the SPIRIT (not the later ‘gospel’ – see Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels) that I PROCLAIM (not ‘preach’) among the BROTHERS (i.e. the Jewish brothers of Rome, not ‘the Gentiles’). James was writing exactly fourteen years AFTER he first went to Jerusalem. The Pauline editor would have us believe Paul wrote Galations after a supposed second visit to Jerusalem, at least fourteen years after a supposed first visit.

Finally, if there was no second journey for Paul, what was its equivalent in Acts for James? said...

I wrote previously, "Finally, if there was no second journey for Paul, what was its equivalent in Acts for James?"

What I meant to write was: If Paul's second fictitious journey was in reality James' first to Jerusalem, what was Paul's third fictitious journey in reality for James?