Dr. Michael Strauss, university professor, scientist, and Christian apologist:
If true that James was a follower of Jesus, then Jesus’ own brother acknowledged he was divine. On what basis would he do that?
“Divine” in what sense, is the question.
I think that most scholars would agree that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was divine, in the sense that he was the “anointed one”, the messiah, the son of God. But did James (or any of the other early disciples) believe that Jesus was Yahweh incarnate, the Creator of the universe?? Other than fundamentalist Protestants and evangelicals, most scholars would be hesitant to give a yes or no answer on that question. The Christology of the disciples immediately after Jesus’ death and even for several years thereafter is disputed.
So in human history have the family members of someone who believes that he is a prophet, a messenger of God, and some sense, divine, believed him? Yes. Just ask the brother of David Koresh who was a member of his cult. And if we do a little digging, I will bet that we can find brothers and sisters among the followers of other cult leaders.
So I am not surprised that some of the members of Jesus’ family believed him to be a prophet, the messiah, and in some sense, divine. Remember, in the Old Testament, the anointed kings of Israel were referred to as “the son of God”. So if the family of Jesus came to believe that Jesus was the messiah, they would then accept that he was “the son of God”, a divine being. And if the author of John is correct, that thousands of devout Jews in Jerusalem turned out to greet Jesus as the new king of Israel, why wouldn’t the family of Jesus also believe?
Again, in Acts chapter one, the author states that “the brothers of the Lord”, which sounds to me like “all the brothers”, were praying with the Church. Do you claim that all the brothers of Jesus received an appearance of Jesus?? I doubt it. So, this is evidence (if this account is historically accurate) that numerous members of Jesus’ family converted to Christianity WITHOUT first receiving an appearance of Jesus. Therefore, this is evidence that it is certainly possible and plausible that James converted PRIOR to his alleged appearance experience mentioned in the Early Creed.
Again, tens of thousands of people have “seen” dead people appear to them over the course of human history. And we have evidence that some brothers and sisters of men claiming to be prophets and messengers of God have believed them. The Resurrection of Jesus Story is just not believable. Just because a few members of a first century cult came to sincerely believe that their dead leader had appeared to them is not sufficient evidence for modern, educated people to believe this tale. It is a typical case of religious hysteria, no different than Virgin Mary sightings today.
Would any of your close relatives ever claim that you were divine based on their interactions with you?
It is irrelevant what my relatives or anyone else’s relatives living TODAY would claim. What is relevant is what the family of Jesus, living in first century Palestine, would claim. And according to the author of Acts, chapter one, all the brothers of Jesus were already believers within weeks of Jesus’ death. Why? Why were they all believers? Answer: We don’t know. But what is odd is that if all their conversions were due to a recent appearance of Jesus, there is no mention of this fact anywhere in the Book of Acts. Even if one of the brother’s, James, claimed to have received an appearance of Jesus, we have no evidence that any of the other brother’s claimed to have received an appearance. This strongly suggests that the majority of Jesus’ brothers converted to Christianity for reasons other than an appearance experience. If most of Jesus’ brothers converted for other reasons, then it is possible and plausible that James converted for other reasons. Therefore, this is evidence that it is possible that James was already a believer prior to his alleged appearance experience. The claim that the conversion of James is an example of a skeptic conversion is unfounded and based on conjecture. We have no evidence why or when James converted.
End of post.