The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul: Tensions in Early Christianity

The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul: Tensions in Early Christianity

The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul: Tensions in Early Christianity

The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul: Tensions in Early Christianity

Synopsis

The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul investigates the nature, diversity, and relationship of three early and important expressions of Judaic Christianity. It is the conviction of the contributors that the Judaic origins of the Christian movement have not been sufficiently understood in both ecclesiastical and academic circles. Comparison with contemporary Judaism is foundational and leads to the question that guides discussion: How did James relate to such prominent figures as Peter and Paul? Given James own eminence, those relationships must have been hallmarks of his own stance and status, and they open the prospect that we might delineate James theological perspective more precisely than otherwise possible by means of this contrast with Peter and Paul. That is the reason for the division of the present volume into two parts. The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul is presented in two parts: James and Peter, and James Paul. Several studies investigate the literary and archaeological evidence that clarifies the world in which James, Peter, and Paul lived, while other studies probe exegetical and theological aspects of the discussion.

Excerpt

The first volume of our Consultation on James sets out the purpose, methods and aims of concentrating on Jesus’ brother in an attempt to trace the complexity of Christian origins in relation to Judaism. The focus of that work engaged the nature of the evidence in regard to James and considered how to approach it, because its evaluation is a necessarily inferential endeavor, given the sources and their attenuated links to James. As our consultation progressed, the participants (many of whom have continued to work through the present phase of the project) proposed a fresh dimension of research. We considered the possibility that our comparative approach might be refined and at the same time broadened significantly.

The comparison with contemporary Judaism was a foundational element of our orientation from the beginning, but the comparison we then became intrigued with was much more specific and more contextual at the same time, aimed within the movement which came to be called Christianity in its various cultural settings. How did James relate to such prominent figures as Peter and Paul? Given James’ own eminence, those relationships must have been hallmarks of his own stance and status, and they open the prospect that we might delineate James’ theological perspective more precisely than otherwise possible by means of this contrast with Peter and Paul. That is the reason for the division of the present volume into two parts.

The whole issue of James’ relationship to Paul is fraught, in that the latter has become a pivotal figure (“the Apostle”) in Christianity since the second century (and contentiously so at least since the Reformation). For that reason, it seemed wise to begin our comparison with Peter (in November 1999), and then to take up the issue of Paul

See B. D. Chilton and C. A. Evans (eds.), James the Just and Christian Origins
(NovTSup 98; Leiden: Brill, 1999). Part I of this collection reviews background and
context; Part II investigates James and Jewish Christianity.

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