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The Beloved Disciple as James

James Tabor wrote an extensive blog post advancing the novel proposal (i.e. it was not included in Charlesworth’s survey) that James, the brother of Jesus and the early leader of the Jerusalem Church, was the beloved disciple. Tabor’s view is supported by the fact that James’ name is not included in the Gospel, linking it with the consistent anonymity of the beloved disciple, and it makes sense for a family member to care for Jesus’ mother in his absence (19:25-27; cf. Acts 1:14). The difficulty with the thesis is how it accounts for the unbelief of Jesus’ brothers (7:5), in which case there may also have been a subtle polemic against the natural brothers of Jesus in that the beloved disciple fulfills their responsibility in caring for Jesus’ mother and a new family of faith is formed at the cross, and some of the textual evidence that he uses to fill in the gaps (cf. Hegessipus, Jerome, the Gospel of Thomas) may reflect later hagiographic embellishment. Thus, it seems questionable to me whether James really was at Jesus’ final meal (13:23-30) or had a prior friendship with the high priest (18:15-16). Take a look at his post and see what you think.

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