I am reading an interesting translation of the New Testament: “The Restored New Testament: A New Translation with Commentary, Including the Gnostic Gospels Tomas, Mary, and Judas.” by Willis Barnstone. I checked it out of my library to give it a look. Barnstone seems a pretty interesting guy (see Wiki). He is a poet and a translator (works with Greek, Chinese, Spanish and others). I am enjoying his NT translations, they give me a new perspective on the NT.
The first book I read was “Yaakov” (James). In his commentary he tells us that Jesus is only mentioned twice in the book of James and based on both placements–the first verse of the first two chapters–they may be pious insertions. He feels the book of James may simply have been Jewish pseudepigrapha composed during the intertestamental period which is wisdom writing (not a letter) from a highly Hellenized Jew with “high poetic discourse to the poor”. The work was then “lightly Christianized” to make it acceptable in an emerging canon. Barnstone feels James was probably writing to fellow Jews.
Reading James in light of this made much sense to me. With only a little looking about, I found these sites which also entertain this hypothesis:
- Wiki on The Epistle of James where it says “The Interpreter’s Bible calls James “… a Christian revision of a Jewish work.” TIB XII p. 21 James’ epistle is so Jewish that Adam Clarke cites Talmudic sources for nearly every verse.” This would make Luther happy, who hated the book of James and felt it should not be in the Canon.
- A Skeptic’s Guide to Christianity
I am adding this to my Bible Manipulation collection.
Question for readers:
- Have you heard of Barnstone or this translation? Luke’s Atheist google search shows almost nothing.
- Had you heard of this hypothesis before? Am I just really out of it? 🙂