Identity, Death, and Ascension in the First Apocalypse of James and the Gospel of John

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Abstract

In the Gospel of John, Jesus declares himself to be the way to the Father; in the First Apocalypse of James, Jesus explains exactly what this way entails. This article analyzes how 1 Apoc. Jas. uses the Johannine christological themes of identity, death and ascension and makes them applicable for human salvation. The identity of Jesus as a son of the Father, as opposed to the inhabitants of the world/cosmos, his autonomous death that conquers cosmic evils, and his immediate ascension and fleshly return are all Johannine motifs that are reformulated in 1 Apoc. Jas. Jesus reveals to James that he too is a son of the Father, and James must declare this identity during his postmortem journey through the celestial toll-collectors. He must not fear his impending stoning as, like other martyrdom literature, the martyr is immune to earthly concerns, and the real challenge lies in the cosmic sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-71
Number of pages21
JournalHarvard Theological Review
Volume114
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • ascension
  • death
  • First Apocalypse of James
  • Gospel of John
  • identity
  • martyrdom
  • monasticism
  • Nag Hammadi

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