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Ascents of James

JAMES, ASCENTS OF. A document mentioned in connection with the Ebionites by Epiphanius (Pan. 30.16), who says it presented James as speaking against the Temple, sacrifice, and the altar fire. It was also violently hostile to Paul. Taking Acts 21:39 as a starting point, the Ebionites alleged that Paul was a Gr., born of Gr. parents, who after a stay in Jerusalem wanted to marry the high priest’s daughter, and so became a proselyte and submitted to circumcision. Later, enraged at the disappointment of his hopes, he wrote against circumcision, the Sabbath, and the law.

The presentation of James and the hostility to Paul recall the Jewish Christianity of the pseudo-Clementines, esp. the final chs. of the first book of the Recognitions (Strecker 252f. postulates a common archetype). There are also links with the account of the martyrdom of James quoted by Eusebius from Hegesippus (Euseb. Hist. II. xxiii. 3-18), and Lightfoot (Galatians, p. 367 n. 1) suggests that the story to which Hegesippus was indebted “was the grand finale of these ‘ascents,’ of which the earlier portions are preserved in the Recognitions.” The book prob. owes its title to the fact that it described the ascents of James up the Temple stairs, from which he harangued the people (Lightfoot, 330 n. 2; Zahn’s conjectured change to anabaseis and the conclusions drawn by Strecker are unnecessary). Schoeps discusses possible connections with a lost Ebionite Book of Acts.


ANT, 20f. (tr.); Lightfoot, Galatians (1890); Schoeps, Theologie und Geschichte des Judenchristentums (1949), 381ff.; Strecker, Das Judenchristentum in den Pseudoklementinen (TU, 70, 1958), 251ff.