Review: James The Brother of Jesus – Robert H. Eisenman

The key to unlocking the secrets of early Christianity and the Dead Sea scrolls

My version: Hardback
Genre: Historical Fiction, USA, JFK, RFK
Orion Books
First published: 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4091-8778-3
Pages: 390
, signed

From the cover:
James was a vegetarian, wore linen clothing, bathed daily at dawn in cold water & was a life-long Nazirite.
In this work of scholarly detection, biblical scholar Robert Eisenman introduces a theory about the identity of James, Jesus’ brother, who was almost entirely marginalized in the New Testament.
Drawing on early Church texts & the Dead Sea Scrolls, he reveals in this groundbreaking exploration that James, not Peter, was the real successor to the movement now called “Christianity.”
In an argument with enormous implications, he identifies Paul as compromised by Roman contacts. James is presented as not simply the leader of the Christianity of his day, but a popular Jewish leader, whose death triggered the uprising against Rome–a fact that creative rewriting of early Church documents has obscured. Eisenman reveals that characters such as “Judas Iscariot” & “the Apostle James” didn’t exist as such.
In delineating the deliberate falsifications in New Testament documents, he shows how James was written out while anti-Semitism was written in. By rescuing James from oblivion, the final conclusion of James the Brother of Jesus is, in the words of The Jerusalem Post, “apocalyptic”. Who & whatever James was, so was Jesus.

James The Brother of Jesus has got to be the absolute last word on the subject. I really can not see how anyone else could come up with anything else on the subject to match the utter thoroughness of this monumental work. It looks at every angle, every nuance, every hidden meaning, code and inference in the available texts, inside the gospels and, more appropriately based on the book’s conclusions, outside the ‘accepted’ ‘gospels.’

It is in essence, a thorough look at the person of James – as much as we can be sure there was a James who was the brother of the Jesus of the Gospels. Through mind-bogglingly thorough research, Robert Eisenman really lays to waste many previous ideas of who and what James was. Here he is much, much more important to the early Church than we had before imagined. Up until Paul came along and created Christianity. The evidence he presents would, in a normal world, have far-reaching consequences. That’s how many books of this type – along with the Graeme whatsits of this world – sell themselves as rocking the fundament of the (Catholic) Church. But they never do. As the Jesus of the Catholic (and all others) Church never existed outside of Paul’s mind, no evidence of what really happened, can touch it. What really happened, who really was significant in the start, is unfortunately, only ever going to be a sideshow.

I can not hope to go into a full run through of the findings of Eisenman’s research, though if you want me to name one thing I will take away from it, it would be the realisation, fact, that all the religions we know and love came about from the same – pre-modern religion – melting pot. When this becomes clear and is mentioned several times here, a whole lot begins to make sense. There were ideas, that formed and went off in different directions.

There is, in fact, more here, getting – in my view – to the absolute heart, the centre, the essence of the problem, about why the Holocaust happened, than in Why? the book that supposedly examines why, but is a little too concerned with How. It is the discussion surrounding what are obviously Paul’s anti-Semitic beliefs in the mouths of the Jews at Jesus’ trial. Which never happened, but that’s by-the-by. It’s there, and you ask me, it’s there that the Holocaust was made legitimate. In fact, a whole lot of the evidence presented here, has to concern the conflict between James’ legitimate, Jew-based, idea of where Christianity was to go, and Paul’s ideas. Christianity as we know it today, was Paul’s invention – he never saw Jesus, met him, heard, him speak – yet declared himself an ‘apostle’ and an apostle before he was born actually. Allowing him to super-cede the “Hey! We actually knew Jesus!” claims of those who, erm…actually knew him. The ‘first last, the last first’ metaphor begin to make sense now? However, in all my reading – so far – I’ve yet to come across an explanation, or theory, of why Paul did what he did. I need to read more.

There is more, much, much more to the book than my paltry few points above – it runs out at a whopping 1114 pages, or 40-odd hours on audiobook. Though, if you are at all interested in the early paths of Christianity, it is essential reading and can hold your interest throughout that half-lifetime it’ll take to read – though while you’re doing it, think how long it took to prepare the research!

In short, forget everything you thought you knew about Jesus, start looking at James for your ideas of where Christianity was meant to go.

You can buy James The Brother of Jesus from The Book Depository

Photo by Eddie & Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

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