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Exodus 6:23 and the high priest from the tribe of Judah.

Among the many crises to afflict the Hasmonean state, disputes about the propriety of conceding to one ruler the hereditary prerogatives of both priest and king were politically the most volatile. Josephus reports that during the reign of John Hyrcanus I (135-104 BCE) a Pharisee named Eleazar complained that Hyrcanus was not fit to be high priest because his mother was `a captive in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes'.(1) His successor Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BCE) found himself the target of the same criticism. When he stood beside the altar to offer a sacrifice at the festival of Tabernacles, an angry crowd vented its displeasure by pelting him with citrons. What they were protesting, Josephus writes, was the indecency of allowing a `descendant of captives' to assume the duties of high priest.(2)

In his reconstruction of the controversy, V. Aptowitzer theorized that much of the discussion between advocates and foes of the Hasmoneans consisted of claims and counter-claims about the relationship between the tribes of Judah and Levi.(3) To support their respective positions, both sides made analogous arguments about early intermarriage between the two tribes. A political faction favouring the restoration of the Davidic monarchy held that since Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses, was one of David's ancestors, his offspring (including the Davidic Messiah) could be considered as `Judahite kings from Levi'.(4) In response, partisans of the Hasmonean dynasty pointed to Aaron's marriage to the Judahite woman Elisheba (Exod. 6:23).(5) Since the seed of Aaron were, on the maternal side, sons of Judah, this text provided a legal entitlement to the Hasmoneans' de facto roles as priest and king. The same ancestry was also projected on to the image of the ideal ruler. Understood in this context, Jewish Messianic expectation about a redeemer of Judahite and Levitical descent was simply an extension of the religio--political ideology of the Hasmonean high priesthood.(6)

Aptowitzer arrived at this conclusion through a chain of inferences and learned conjectures. In the Jewish sources that he examined, there is little indication that speculation about the mixed ancestry of David and the sons of Aaron originated in a polemical exchange between allies and opponents of the Hasmonean dynasty. Nor do these works specifically cite Exod. 6:23 in support either of the high priesthood or of the pedigree of the ideal priest/king.(7) What is most surprising, however, is Aptowitzer's virtual neglect of some highly relevant Christian witnesses. Had he considered the use of the Exodus verse in early Christian reports about the end of the Hasmonean dynasty, Aptowitzer might-have been able to establish a much tighter connection between a movement in Jewish Messianism and political controversies of the Second Temple period.

Christian investigation into later Hasmonean history was sparked by a belief that the end of Hasmonean rule confirmed certain biblical predictions predicating the coming of the Messianic age on the collapse of Jewish autonomy. The enthronement of Herod, a foreign-born king of uncertain lineage, offered partial proof that this had occurred. But since one of these predictions (Gen, 49:10) seemed to equate the loss of Jewish self-rule with the end of rule `from Judah', opinions diverged as to how Herod's abrogation of the hereditary high priesthood completely satisfied the conditions of the oracle. One explanation, favoured by Eusebius of Caesarea, circumvented the problem by means of an inclusive definition of the `Judah'. For other interpreters, however, Exod. 6:23 made it possible to retain the word's more narrow `tribal' connotation. According to this theory, Herod's predecessors, descendants of the union between Aaron and Elisheba, represented the last line of native Jewish rulers qualified to discharge the functions of both priest and king. The particular significance of this latter interpretation for the subject at hand is that the same verse from Exodus figures prominently in a little examined Christian genealogical tradition about the mixed priestly and royal ancestry of Jesus and James.

In the following discussion of early Christian witnesses to the conception of the `high priest from the tribe of Judah', I hope to establish three central points: (a) In the interpretation of three well-known political oracles in Jewish Scriptures predicting the cessation of a line of hereditary rulers (Gen. 49:10, Dan. 9:25-26 and Jer. 22:28-30), Exod. 6:23 promoted the ancestral claims of the Hasmonean dynasty to the dual office of high priest and king. (b) The same verse from Exodus supported a theory about Jesus' and James' Levitical/Judahite lineage and their restoration of a legitimate hereditary office vacated when Herod acceded to the throne. (c) This Jewish Christian tradition, linking James and Jesus to the pre-Herodian high priesthood, underwent varying degrees of later revision, the purpose of which was to bring it into conformity with a developing orthodox consensus about Jesus' Davidic ancestry. Probably the most extensive reworking appears in the treatment of later Hasmonean and Herodian history by Eusebius of Caesarea. Comparison of Eusebius with other fourth century witnesses reveals a consistent and thoroughgoing pattern of adaptation. While retaining other features of the tradition, Eusebius pointedly removed anything suggesting a symmetry in the ancestries of Jesus and the Hasmonean dynasty.


I. Gen. 49:10 and Herod's abrogation of the hereditary high priesthood

According to Josephus, one of Herod's first acts as king was to abolish the practice of assigning the high priesthood to those of Hasmonean lineage. After drowning the lawful high priest Aristobolus III, he says, Herod appointed to this rank undeserving men without pedigree.(8) Herod's own reign as king of the Jews was dogged by questions about his ancestry. Nicolaus of Damascus, a gentile historian in Herod's court, tried to allay misgivings about his patron's lineage by tracing his bloodline back to one of the leading Jewish families to return from Babylonian captivity. But this was little more than court flattery, and suspicions were rampant that Herod, 'a commoner, an Idumean and a half-Jew', was not fit to be king.(9) A particularly damaging story finding its way into Christian circles took the insult a step farther. Herod's father Antipater, it was said, was the son of a temple slave ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) at Ashkelon. Because Antipater's father could not afford to pay the ransom when his son was captured by Idumean bandits, Antipater was brought up according to Idumean customs. Upon acceding to the throne, Herod himself, ashamed of his lowly birth from a captive temple-slave, took the extreme step of burning all public genealogical records, thereby assuring that none of the Israelite families could claim a pedigree superior to his.(10)

Speculation about the deeper significance of the abuse of a supposedly inviolable hereditary office by a man of uncertain lineage fastened on a well-known political oracle in Jewish Scriptures about the future prospects of the Jewish state. In this oracle, Jacob predicted that a `leader ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) shall not fail from Judah, nor a ruler ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) from his loins, until there come the things stored up for him; and he is the expectation of nations' (Gen. 49:10). Although the verse was subject to any number of differing readings, Christian exegetes understood it to mean that the prophecy would remain unsatisfied as long as the Jews were governed by native rulers. In the Roman occupation and the enthronement of the `foreigner ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) Herod, advocates of this interpretation were certain that this condition had been met.

In an admittedly oblique discussion of Gen. 49:10 in the Dialogue with Trypho, Justin Martyr intimates that a Jewish form of this interpretation of the oracle m-ay have preceded the Christian adaptation of it.(11) There is also some evidence for its popularization in Jewish Christian circles. A scribal gloss to Josephus' narrative of Herod's birth attributes to James 'the brother of God' the statement that Herod's Ashkelonite heritage fulfilled Jacob's oracle about the cessation of rule from Judah.(12) And in his epistle to Aristides, Julius Africanus claims to have learned about Herod's Ashkelonite ancestry from `relatives ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of Jesus dwelling in Nazareth and Cochaba.(13) The historical credibility of these witnesses is not the main issue here. What they cumulatively suggest is an exegetical tradition, possibly pre-Christian, that saw in Herod's accession to the throne the fulfilment of a critical precondition for the coming of the Messianic age. And that was the reason why this interpretation of the oracle found a welcome reception in Christian commentaries.

The single figure most responsible for promoting this interpretation of Gen. 49:10 was Eusebius of Caesarea. From his sources, Eusebius knew that Herod was foreign-born, either an Idumean or an Ashkelonite.(14) In either case, Herod's ancestry provided for Eusebius ample evidence that on the eve of Jesus' birth, the Jews had sacrificed their autonomy to an outside authority. When the kingdom of the Jews, he writes, `came to such a man as this, the expectation of the Gentiles, in accordance with the prophecy, was already at the door, inasmuch as the succession from Moses of rulers and governors ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) had ceased with him'.(15) But to establish that the conditions of Jacob's oracle remained unsatisfied until the coming of Christ, Eusebius had to overcome a powerful objection. For 500 years before Jesus' birth, he writes, the overseers of the Jewish nation were an aristocratic elite of high priests, `none of whom issued from the tribe of Judah'.(16) How then was an oracle foretelling the end of rule `from Judah' somehow realized in Herod's disruption of the high-priestly line?

What Eusebius suggests is that Jacob did not specifically mean by these words the physical offspring of Judah; instead, he was predicting the collective preeminence of the entire tribe. Thus, even when Jewish kings and governors came from other tribes, `Judah' (as shown by the name `Judea') continued to `stand forth as the head ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of the whole nation'. Understood in this context, Jacob's prediction of cessation of rule `from Judah' signified the collapse of Jewish autonomy, regardless of the tribe in power at the time.17 As long as the Jewish nation lived under native rulers, Eusebius writes, the terms of this oracle remained unrealized. But with Pompey's siege of Jerusalem, his intrusion into the temple sanctuary, and his arrest of the high priest Aristobulus II, the Jews began to surrender their sovereignty to an outside power. The culminating event was Herod's murder of the last of the Hasmoneans, and his own installation as king. `With him [John Hyrcanus II], the government of the Jews by native rulers came to an end, Herod being, as I said, the first of foreign stock ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to be called the King of the Jews'.(18)

Eusebius called this symbolic interpretation of the words of Gen. 49:10 the `only consistent ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), one possible.(19 But there was another school of interpretation that analyzed the same events from the perspective of Exod. 6:23. Because Aaron's wife Elisheba was a Judahite, the post-exilic high priests were, in the words of the chronicler George Syncellus, `descendants of Judah on the maternal side ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])'.(20) In this way, Jacob's prediction about the end of rule `from Judah' was fulfilled when Herod assumed the throne and put an end to the previous dynastic succession of tribally mixed priest/kings.

First attested in the late fourth century in the works of Epiphanius and Basil of Caesarea, this tradition turns up later in several of the Byzantine universal chronicles.(21) The coming of the Messiah, writes the chronicler George the Monk (ninth century), was clearly imminent when Herod was appointed as king by the Romans and offered the office of high priest to Ananelus, `a man of foreign origin ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).(22) At that time and `in accordance with the sacred oracle ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])' of Jacob to Judah,

it was fitting that those who were both high priests and rulers of the Jews ceased ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). For they were descended from Judah on the mother's side ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), since in fact the great Aaron took the daughter of Amminadab as a wife, and accordingly the descendants of Judah and Levi became related.(23)

In most of its historical details, George's narrative parallels Eusebius' analysis of Jacob's oracle. But unlike Eusebius, George does not predicate the realization of the oracle strictly on the loss of Jewish autonomy. He interprets the words 'from Judah' more narrowly. Through mixed marriage, the leaders of the post-exilic Jewish state possessed the tribal pedigree to act as both high priest and secular ruler. Thus, when Herod, the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (lit. `one from another tribe'), ascended to the throne and abolished this hereditary order, the terms of the prediction were satisfied.

2. Alexander Jannaeus and the end of the post-exilic [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of Dan. 9:25-26

The particular interest of Gen. 49:10 was that its fulfilment was linked to an observable disruption in Jewish political life, namely the cessation of a `leader and ruler' from the tribe of Judah. Another oracle in Jewish scriptures, Daniel's `apocalypse of 70 year-weeks', described the future of the Jewish state in much the same way. In this vision, Gabriel spoke of an `anointed ruler (MT: [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; Theod.: [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]' who would be cut off at an appointed time before the final restoration (Dan. 9:25-26).

The precise identity of this figure was a subject of considerable speculation. Encouraged by the rendering of Dan. 9:25 in Theodotion and the other secondary versions, one school of Christian interpretation favoured identifying the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] with Jesus.(24) But after considering Julius Africanus' case for a Christological reading of the verse, Eusebius rejects it on the grounds that it ignored what he considered the purposeful segmentation of the oracle into seven and sixty-two weeks.(25) As an alternative explanation, he proposes that the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] was an aggregate term for the entire `catalog' of high priests who, as `anointed rulers', managed both the secular and religious affairs of the post-exilic Jewish state.(26)

In elaborating upon this identification, Eusebius suggests two possible ways of analyzing the chronology of the oracle. According to the first, the completion of the foreordained sixty-nine weeks of the oracle coincided with the death of Alexander Jannaeus, the last of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] When rule of the state passed into the hands of his wife Alexandra, the functions of priest and king were no longer fused in the single office of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] She was unfit to serve as high priest and her accession to the throne left the Jewish nation without a king. The end of the succession of anointed rulers occurred when Pompey arrested Aristobulus, the lawful high priest, and Herod subsequently appointed to this office men `who were alien and strange to the priestly line of succession'.(27)

Although Eusebius has earned praise for this departure from the commonly accepted Christological interpretation of the `anointed ruler', it was not necessarily an original formulation on his part. There are suggestions that it may have originated in an older Jewish tradition.(28) Nor was Eusebius the only Christian commentator to propose the identification of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] with the post-exilic high priesthood. A similar and arguably independent account of the end of the reign of Alexander Jannaeus and its aftermath appears in Epiphanius' refutation of the Nazoreans:

For at Christ's arrival the rulers in succession from Judah [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) came to an end. Until his time there were rulers ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), but from the time of his birth in Bethlehem of Judaea the order failed and was transformed [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), at the time of Alexander who was from priestly and royal stock [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). For after Alexander, this hereditary office failed [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) beginning with the time of Salina (also known as Alexandra), and at the time of King Herod and Augustus emperor of the Romans. This Alexander, as one of the anointed priests and rulers ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] also was crowned.(29)

Aside from some confusion in the historical sequence of events, Epiphanius' narrative of the collapse of the Jewish polity is mostly intelligible. What he is describing is the failure of two political orders: the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of Gen. 49:10 and the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Dan. 9:25.

Like Eusebius, Epiphanius identifies the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] with the post-exilic leaders of the Jewish state, whose dominion extended until the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (hence, Epiphanius' characterization of Jannaeus as [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. When his wife Alexandra, a woman not qualified to fulfill this role, succeeded him to the throne, this office ceased to exist, thereby satisfying the terms of Gabriel's oracle. But the succession of native rulers ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) continued until the foreigner ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Herod received the crown. And thus, at the time of Jesus' birth, there no longer existed a dynastic ruler from the tribe of Judah to manage the affairs of the Jewish state.(30)

Although the similarities of Epiphanius' narrative with Eusebius point to a common source, there is one critical difference. Nowhere does Eusebius offer heredity as a sanction for the secular and sacerdotal privileges of the `anointed priest and ruler'. By contrast, Epiphanius' whole discussion of the end of the `ruler from Judah' and the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] derives from the precedent of intertribal marriage first established by Aaron's marriage to a Judahite woman. There is a hint ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in Scripture, Epiphanius states, about the union between the royal and priestly tribes. For with the `merging of the two tribes ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] the royal and the priestly (I mean Judah's and Aaron's and the whole tribe of Levi), kings were also made priests ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]'.(31) Dual lineage was the source of the authority of the succession of post-exilic priest/kings extending up to the reign of Jannaeus. Like his predecessors, Jannaeus, the last legitimate claimant to the office of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of Dan. 9:25, was a `ruler from priestly and royal stock'.

3. Jeremiah's oracle to Jeconiah and the cessation of the throne of David

In Christian interpretation of Exod. 6:23, the concept of the `high priest from Judah' makes up part of a larger discussion of lawful and unlawful transfers of power in post-exilic Judaism. In his accession to the throne and disruption of the Hasmonean high priesthood, Herod, a foreign-born proselyte, usurped authority from a hereditary line of rulers qualified to administer both the religious and secular affairs of the Jewish state. In much the same way, the attribution of royal and priestly ancestry to the sons of Aaron helped to justify the transfer of political authority from the pre-exilic Davidic kings to the post-exilic high priests. Here again, inquiry into this matter proceeded from a passage in Jewish scriptures ordaining the end of a dynastic succession of rulers. In this case, the text under consideration was a divine decree pronounced upon the offspring of Jeconiah, the exiled king of Judah. Jeconiah, `a despised broken pot, a vessel no one wants', was consigned by God to a life stripped of all honor, `one who shall not succeed in his days; for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah' (Jer. 22:28-30).(32)

Partly because Matthew named Jeconiah among Jesus' forefathers (1:11-12), Christian commentators devoted much effort to discovering the meaning of the divine damnatio memoriae depriving him of successors to the throne.(33) In his Quaestiones evangelicae ad Stephanum, Eusebius invokes the decree to explain why Luke's record of Jesus' post-Davidic genealogy differed from Matthew's. Because of the sentence against Jeconiah and the failings of the other corrupt kings of the Davidic dynasty, Eusebius writes, some of the Jews of Jesus' time rejected the belief that the Messiah would descend from the royal Davidic line. It was out of deference to this popular sentiment that the evangelist Luke chose an alternate route and traced Jesus' Davidic lineage through the non-royal line of David's third son, the `prophet' Nathan.(34)

For Eusebius, the passage from Jeremiah also carried a broader significance in the context of transformations in the Jewish polity after the exile. Following the return from captivity, Eusebius writes, the Jewish nation was ruled continuously by high priests up until the coming of Jesus. During his ministry, the nation was governed by the tetrarchs Herod and Philip, the procurator Pilate, and over all of these rulers,an emperor. In Eusebius' view, all of this confirmed the veracity of the divine decree against Jeconiah. After his reign, he writes, `no one from the tribe of Judah was established as a successor to the throne of David'.(35)

In an epistle to Amphilochius, Basil of Caesarea examines the meaning of Jeremiah 22:28-30 from a perspective similar to Eusebius'.(36) The only significant difference is in his characterization of the post-exilic priesthood. There is no question in Basil's mind that the sentence imposed on Jeconiah was realized in Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of his kingdom and the post-exilic changes instituted in the form of government. `When Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar the kingdom was dissolved, and no longer was sovereignty passed down in succession from father to son, as it had previously been. Rather at that time the descendants of David passed from power into captivity'. Upon reinstituting Jewish rule after the exile, Zerubbabel and Salathiel no longer exerted the control of a king; instead they exercised their authority `more democratically ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])'.(37)

But the collapse of the Davidic throne did not bring about the end of the royal line of Judah as well. The line of Judah survived, Basil writes, in the high-priestly theocracy established after the exile. As a result of intertribal marriage between the royal and priestly tribes, he claims, the high priests could legitimately carry out the duties of a secular ruler.(38) Like his contemporary Epiphanius, Basil's motive in appealing to the practice of intertribal marriage was to ensure that the terms of Jacob's oracle remained unmet until the coming of Christ. `The tribe of Judah did not cease', Basil writes, `until the advent of the one for whom it was stored up, when the Jewish kingdom was transferred to Herod, the son of the Ashkelonite Antipater, and his sons...'. That is to say, even though the Davidic monarchy ended with the exile, the legacy of the royal tribe from Judah survived in the form of the ancestrally mixed high priesthood.(39)


I. Jesus' hereditary claim on the office of high priest and king

At several places in his work On the Benedictions of Isaac, Jacob and Moses, Hippolytus of Rome refers to Jesus' ancestral right to serve as both priest and king. Christ was `tribally mixed ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]', he says, in order that `as a descendant of both tribes he might be shown to be both king and priest of God'.(40) Origen makes much the same observation in a comment on the Mosaic interdiction of intertribal marriages in Num. 36:6. God deliberately exempted the Levites and Judahites from this prohibition, he writes, in order to ensure that Christ would be able to fulfil the terms of his dual office as `king and priest after the order of Melchizedek'.(41)

Despite the express repudiation of this conception of Jesus' priesthood in the Epistle to the Hebrews (7:14), the doctrine of Jesus' mixed Levitical and Judahite ancestry enjoyed a surprisingly favourable reception. By the beginning of the third century, the tradition was already firmly established.(42) Hippolytus, the first writer clearly to attest the idea, assumes that his readers will receive it as a fixed and even uncontroversial element of Christian teaching.(43) Julius Africanus' own vehement disapproval of the doctrine did little to curb its popularity, especially as an aid in the resolution of well-known [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in the gospel genealogies.(44) Indeed, if we can trust an untitled treatise known to Eusebius, Jesus' dual lineage was by the fourth century a belief held by `many men of renown'.(45)

The single proof-text that commentators cited in order to ground Jesus' mixed lineage scripturally was the same one used to sanction the royal and priestly prerogatives of the post-exilic high priesthood, namely Aaron's marriage to a Judahite woman.(46) One corollary to this putative symmetry in bloodlines was that Jesus restored the birthright of an office that Herod had delegitimized on the eve of his birth.(47) This is in fact the inference which Basil draws in his epistle to Amphilochius. After the return from exile, he writes,

rule was then transferred to the priesthood, as a result of the mixing of the priestly and royal tribes ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); hence the Lord is both king and high priest in matters related to God ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). And the royal tribe did not cease until the coming of Christ.(48)

For Basil, the broader implication of this is that after the cessation of the temporary and earthly representatives of these offices, Jesus revived them, combining in his person the two roles of eternal priest and universal monarch:

For he is the expectation of the nations (Gen. 49: 10), not of the least part of the world. For he will be, he says, `the root of Jesse and the one who rises to rule the nations. In him the nations will hope' (Isa. 11:10). `I have set you as a covenant of the nation, as light of the nations. And I will set, he says, his seed for ever and his throne like the days of heaven' (Isa. 42:6). In this way God has continued both as priest, even if he did not receive the sceptre of Judea, and as king of all of the earth, and the blessing of Jacob has been confirmed. `And all the tribes of the earth will be blessed by his seed' (Gen. 22:18), and all the nations will bless Christ.(49)

2. The mixed lineage of James, hereditary high priest and king

A legend about James, dating back at least as early as the beginning of the second century, recounts his regular acts of priestly intercession in the temple on behalf of his people. The witnesses to this legend are vague, however, about the source of James' authority to serve in this capacity. In Eusebius' excerpt from Hegesippus, a second-century Jewish convert to Christianity, Hegesippus states only that the holiness of James' character and the ascetic regimen prescribed by his Nazarite vows somehow entitled him to enter the temple sanctuary.(50)

When Epiphanius first recounts the story in his Panarion, he is equally ambiguous.(51) On the authority of `Eusebius, Clement and others', he describes how James was permitted to enter the `holy of holies ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) once a year and wear the priestly mitre ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). But while assuming that James' actions in the temple meant that he `functioned as priest in the ancient priesthood', Epiphanius stops short of explaining what birthright qualified James to perform a function that, as he knows, the `law commanded to the high priests'.(52) When Epiphanius reports this tradition a second time, however, he erases any doubts about James' priestly background. The proof-text is the familiar one from Exodus. In addition to being a Nazarite, James was also a `distinguished member of the priesthood, because the two tribes were linked exclusively to one another ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), the royal tribe to the priestly one and the priestly to the royal, just as earlier, in the time of the Exodus, Nahshon the phylarch from Judah took as his wife the Elisheba of old, [the] daughter of Aaron (sic)'.(53)

Epiphanius makes this assertion in the context of answering a problem about Mary's lineage posed by `many of the sects ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])': how could Mary issue from the line of David and Judah and at the same time be related to Elizabeth, a Levite (cf. Luke 1:5, 36)?(54) Epiphanius' answer was well-known in the fourth century: through intertribal marriage, Mary was both a Levite and a descendant of David.(55) The relevance of James' mixed genealogy to Epiphanius' argument was that it proved that James, although a Davidid, possessed the hereditary qualifications to officiate in the temple as well. But in order for James' mixed lineage to have any material bearing on the subject of Mary's ancestry, one would have to assume that James was biologically related to Mary--a position that Epiphanius himself categorically rejects.(56) This would seem to suggest that Epiphanius drew upon an older tradition or source about James as the biological brother of Jesus and that he only partially succeeded in adapting it for his own purposes.(57)

It can hardly be sheer coincidence that the verse from Exodus which Epiphanius cites (in an altered form) is the same one typically offered to legitimate the royal and priestly prerogatives of Jesus and the post-exilic priest/kings. We can gain some sense of the broader significance of James' genealogy from Epiphanius' own narration of the transfer of power to the early church following Herod's abrogation of the hereditary high priesthood. After Herod's accession to the throne, legitimate authority passed into the hands of Jesus, the eternal Davidic king and high priest. This authority was then conveyed `to his own servants, the high priests of the catholic church'.(58) The idea expressed here is that, in the wake of the collapse of the legitimate, but temporary, succession of Jewish priest/kings, the two offices had been permanently enshrined in the Church, `never to fail'. James, the `brother and apostle of the Lord' as well as the first bishop, could succeed Jesus in the dual role of high priest and king because, like Jesus himself, he possessed the hereditary birthright to do so.(59)


In one of the few modern investigations into the genesis of the doctrine of Jesus' mixed Levitical and Judahite ancestry, Theodor Zahn traced its roots to a `very old belief' of the Jewish Christian Jerusalem church. Although Zahn's conjectures about the original shape of the tradition have been rightly criticized, our study suggests that his instincts about its origins were fundamentally sound.(60) Viewed in the light of partisan controversies over heredity in Judaism of the Second Temple period, the exegetical tradition about the `high priest from Judah' can best be understood as a Jewish Christian adaptation of the political ideology of the pre-Herodian high priesthood.(61)

Three oracles from Jewish Scriptures foretelling the future prospects of the Jewish nation provided the vehicle to expound this ideology polemically and within the framework of a divinely ordained plan of history. Underlying their interpretation is a mutually shared intention to elevate the legitimacy of the postexilic high priesthood over competing interests. The effect of the injunction against Jeconiah is permanently to expunge any prospects for the restoration of the Davidic royal line; following this decree, dominion had been ceded to the post-exilic high priests of mixed royal and priestly descent. As a counterblast against his detractors' censure of him as the descendant of captives, Alexander Jannaeus is presented here as the last of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] foretold in Gabriel's apocalypse to Daniel. Not long after Jannaeus' death, power was again transferred when Herod, the son of a captive temple slave, usurped the throne and appointed men of ignoble birth to the high priesthood. But this too was decreed long in advance. Before the coming of the `expectation of nations', the `high priests from Judah' had to surrender their dominion to a ruler of `a foreign tribe'. Nostalgia for a bygone theocracy is finally the driving force behind the conception of Jesus and James as the restoration of this lost hereditary order.(62)

Zahn further speculated that distortions in later versions of the doctrine of Jesus' and James' mixed lineage resulted from artificial attempts to bring it into conformity with a competing belief about the Davidic lineage of Joseph and Mary. Epiphanius' garbled treatment of Exod. 6:23 in his discussion of James' priestly background amply illustrates Zahn's observation. In its original form, there was nothing in this verse that would have had any relevance to the line of David. So in order to integrate the story of James' priesthood with his presumed status as a Davidid, Epiphanius, or possibly his source, simply reconstituted the Exodus verse to achieve the desired result. By casting Nahshon and not Aaron as the husband of Elisheba, he managed to turn the `Levite' Elisheba into one of David's foremothers.(63) A similar motive may lie behind Epiphanius' confusing characterization of the post-exilic high priesthood. Epiphanius' main interest in narrating Herod's abolition of the hereditary order of the post-exilic priest/kings was to demonstrate how the high priesthood and Davidic kingship were ceded to Jesus, James, and the early Church. The logic of this argument forced Epiphanius to the untenable conclusion that the high priests were not only rulers from Judah; they were also hereditary heirs to the Davidic throne.(64)

Equally desperate attempts to work out a compromise position can be documented elsewhere, especially in the interpretation of the gospel genealogies. In the third and fourth centuries, proponents of Jesus' mixed Levitical and Judahite lineage tried various experiments aimed at demonstrating that apparent contradictions and inconsistencies in the gospel genealogies communicated a hidden message about Jesus' royal and priestly ancestry. Although these experiments, none of them especially persuasive, were quite different in formulation, they all shared one underlying motive: to make the necessary concessions to the orthodox view of Jesus as a descendant of David without surrendering Jesus' ancestral claim to the office of high priest.(65)

In one of his early works, the Quaestiones ad Stephanum, Eusebius examines, only to reject, two specimens of this attempted synthesis. The first of them concerned the same subject which Epiphanius was to address later in the Panarion: if, as Luke states, Elizabeth was `a daughter of Aaron', how could Mary, a Davidid, be related to her? In response to this problem, an anonymous work which Eusebius claims to have read offered one possible explanation, purportedly based on the authority of `many men of renown ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])'. When Nahshon's sister Elisheba became the wife of Aaron, the author observes, `the priestly tribe was mixed with the royal tribe.' Since this pattern of intermarriage continued down to the time of Mary and Elizabeth, there was nothing to prevent Mary from being both a Davidid and a descendant of Levi.

Proponents of this theory believed that their solution offered far more than a clever way around a troubling problem. They had also discovered Moses' deeper intentions in reporting the practice of inter-tribal marriage: `It was not in vain that the divine prophet taught about the intermingling of the royal tribe [with the priestly tribe]; rather he demonstrated how the Lord Christ, considered as king and high priest in the human sense, issued from both tribes'. But in Eusebius' opinion, the whole theory foundered on a flawed premise. Luke's characterization of Elizabeth as Mary's [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Eusebius writes, signified nothing about tribal kinship. It meant only that Mary and Elizabeth were both Israelites. In this way, Eusebius hoped to preserve what for him was an immutable datum about Mary's lineage. Because Jewish law required that a man marry a woman of his own tribe and family, Mary, like her husband Joseph, must have descended purely from the line of David.(66)

Eusebius pronounces the same verdict on the application of the principle of Jesus' mixed lineage to another problem in the gospel genealogies. In this case, it involved a conspicuous inconsistency in the Davidic lines of Jesus recorded in the genealogies of Matthew and Luke. From Africanus' epistle to Aristides, Eusebius had learned of a school of interpreters who believed they had found the key to the question in the scriptural precedents of intertribal marriage. These commentators managed to correlate--Africanus does not say precisely how--Aaron and Eleazar's marriages to Judahite women with the two diverging Davidic lines in the gospel genealogies.(67) Whereas the `priestly/prophetic' line of Nathan recorded by Luke established Jesus' hereditary claim to the office of high priest, Matthew's genealogy through the line of Solomon confirmed Jesus' royal pedigree.(68)

Here again, advocates of this hypothesis believed they had exposed the deeper intentions of the evangelists. In his caustic appraisal of this opposing school of interpretation, Africanus had a different view. He dismisses the whole theory of a Levitical/ Davidic priestly line of Nathan as an impossibility, `religious hairsplitting ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), and a monstrous affront to the integrity of the evangelists.(69) But aside from their factual errors, the single thing that Africanus found most objectionable in his opponents' interpretation was their underlying assumption about the veiled meaning of the evangelists. There is no need, he says, to suppose that the evangelists laboured in their genealogies to establish a teaching about Jesus' priesthood and kingship that had been enunciated so clearly by the prophets and patriarchs.(70) Eusebius' subsequent assessment of this controversy leaves his readers with little doubt about his own allegiances. Africanus' theory of Levirate marriage, he writes, not only explained the discrepancy in the gospel genealogies; it also demonstrated that Mary and Joseph were both of the same tribe and family.(71) And whereas Africanus' theory was based on history and tradition, the only thing that advocates of the rival `priest/king' school of interpretation had to offer were `forced and fictitious opinions ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])'.(72)

Eusebius offers this judgment on Africanus' opponents in his Ecclesiastical History. It follows immediately and abruptly on the heels of a lengthy exposition of Gen. 49:10 and Dan. 9:24-27, the details of which reveal an unmistakable affinity with the exegetical tradition outlined above. In both cases, the interpretation of Dan. 9:25 presupposes the identification (not at all common in the early Church) of the `anointed priest, ruler' with the succession of the post-exilic priest/kings.(73) And the story of Herod's Ashkelonite origin, which Eusebius acknowledges having gotten from Africanus' epistle to Aristides, represents for him incontrovertible proof that Herod's accession to the throne brought to an end the succession of native rulers from Judah described in Jacob's oracle.(74) The only notable departure is Eusebius' understanding of the words `from Judah' in the context of Herod's dissolution of the Hasmonean priesthood. The phrase `[GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]', he says, refers not to physical descendants from Judah, but only to rulers of the Jewish nation. `The advent of the Christ came clearly in his [Herod's] time', he writes, `and thus the expected salvation and the calling of the Gentiles followed consistently with the prophecy; moreover, from the time when the rulers and governors from Judah, that is to say those of the Jewish race, had ceased, immediate confusion naturally ensued in the affairs of the priesthood...'.(75)

In saying this, Eusebius was only reiterating here a position that he had staked out earlier in the Demonstratio Evangelica.(76) It is highly unlikely that Epiphanius and the other later representatives of the opposing interpretation of Gen. 49:10 independently reworked material from Eusebius in order to make it conform to their views about the mixed lineage of the high priesthood. In light of our preceding discussion of Eusebius' treatment of the other features of the tradition, it is far more probable that Eusebius recast the exegetical tradition of the `high priest from Judah' in such a way as to remove any traces of an ancestral link between the Judahite Jesus and the Levitical high priesthood. This would be entirely consistent with the overall aims of the opening chapters of the Ecclesiastical History. In the section preceding his account of Herod's reign, Eusebius writes at length about the priesthood and kingship of Jesus in relation to their earthly prefigurations. Guided by the conception of Jesus' priesthood put forth in Hebrews, Eusebius forcefully disavows here any tribal relationship between Jesus' own priesthood `after the order of Melchizedek' and the hereditary Jewish high priesthood that foreshadowed it through `types and symbols'.(77)

Eusebius pursues the same objective in adapting the exegetical tradition outlined above. Like Africanus, he rejects the `false and fictitious' beliefs about Jesus' priestly and royal ancestry upon which this tradition was based. To that same end, he makes it clear that the words `from Judah' in Jacob's prophecy meant something entirely different from these same words as they are applied to Jesus. In this way, Eusebius effectively severed any genealogical link between Jesus and the hereditary high priesthood. But he found the other elements of the tradition too valuable to discard. The vestiges of it that survive in the Ecclesiastical History and other of Eusebius' works attest to the ability of the early Church to absorb and adapt useful material of older and heterodox origin. (1) Josephus, Antiquities 13.292.

(2) Ibid. 13.372.

(3) V. Aptowitzer, Parteipolitik der Hasmonaerzeit im rabbinischen und pseudoepi-graphischen Schrifttum (Veroffentlichungen der Alexander Kohut Memorial Foundation; Vienna, 1927), 145-73.

(4) Ibid. 91-95. For rabbinic witnesses to this genealogy, see Sifre on Numbers par. 78 (on Num.10:29); b. Sotah IIb. For further discussion, see R. Le Deaut, `Miryam, soeur de Moise, et Marie, mere du Messie', Biblica, 45 (1964), 207-208; L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1925), 5.393.

(5) Exod. 6:23 identifies Elisheba as the daughter of Amminadab and sister of the Judahite phylarch Nahshon. On Nahshon as head of the house of Judah, see Num.1:7; 2:3; 7:12, 17; 10:14; 1 Chr.2:10. (6) V. Aptowitzer, Parteipolitik der Hasmonaerzeit, 88-91. In Aptowitzer's opinion, passages in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs predicting an ideal ruler of dual tribal lineage embodied this ideology. See, for example, TGad 8.1-2: `Honour Judah and Levi, because from them the Lord will raise up a Saviour for Israel'; also TDan 5.10; TSim. 7.1-3; TLevi 2.11.

(7) For a recent critique of Aptowitzer's hypothesis, see M. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988(2)), 137-38.

(8) Josephus, Ant. 15.51-56; 20.247-48.

(9) Ibid. 14.403, who puts these words into the mouth of Antigonus, Herod's rival to the throne (cf. Deut.17:15). Josephus (J. W. 1.123,181) preserved some of Herod's honour by tracing his parents' background to distinguished Idumean and Arab families. For Josephus' dismissive reaction to Nicolaus' version of Herod's ancestry, see Ant. 14.9.

(10) Africanus, Epistle to Aristides, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.7.11-13. For a critical edition of the entire letter, see W. Reichardt, Die Briefe des Sextus Julius Africanus an Aristides und Origenes (TU 34.3; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1909),53-62. On the origin of this attack on Herod's family, see A. Schalit, `Die fruhchristliche Uberlieferung uber die Herkunft der Familie des Herodes', ASTI 1 (1962), 108-60, especially 115-22; 136-43. Schalit traces the invective to opponents of Herod favouring the restoration of the Hasmonean dynasty; he also conjectures (140-41) that the name Ashkelon might have been understood `in der ublichen Misdraschmanier' as [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] It, which he takes to mean `prostitute', or `man of idolatry'. For further discussion see R. Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1990), 357-60; E. Schurer, G. Vermes and F. Millar, History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 BC-AD 135) (3 vols.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1973-87), 1.234 (n. 3); H. Gelzer, Sextus Julius Africanus und die byzantinische Chronographie (Leipzig: Teubner, 1885), 1.258-65, who considers the tradition historical and traces it to Justus of Tiberias; see also J. M. Heer, Die Stammbaume Jesu nach Matthaus und Lukas: Ihre ursprungliche Bedeutung und Text-Gestalt und ihre Quellen (BibS[F] 15.1; Freiburg: Herder, 1910), 21-23.

(11) Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 52.3. Herod's assumed role in the realization of Jacob's prediction might also lie behind Judah's paraphrase of the oracle in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Judah predicts that `my rule shall be terminated by men of foreign tribes ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), until the salvation of Israel comes, until the coming of the God of righteousness' (TJud 22:2). The Greek term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is the same word that Christian witnesses almost invariably use to describe Herod and his offspring. Among the other witnesses (admittedly of varying value) attesting an earlier Jewish version of this interpretation, note the following: (a) according to Epiphanius (Panarion, the Herodians adduced Herod's ignoble Ashkelonite lineage as proof that he was the `expectation of gentiles' whose coming would follow the cessation of a line of rulers from Judah; for other witnesses see H. H. Rowley, `The Herodians in the Gospels' JTS 41 (1940) 14-16; (b) a Slavonic addition to Josephus tells of a secret debate conducted among Jewish priests about the meaning of Herod's ascendancy to the rule of Judea. In this debate, a priest named Jonathan acknowledges that the foreign-born Herod might be the Messianic figure predicted by Jacob to follow the cessation of rule from Judah. For English translation of the entire text, see Thackeray's appendix to his Loeb translation of Josephus' Jewish War, Bks. 4-7, 636-38 (replacing F. W. 1.364-70).

(12) At Ant. 14.7.3, in the margin of Codex Laurentianus plut. 69 cod. 20; see B. Niese (ed.), Flavii Iosephi Opera 7 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1887-94), 1. XV.

(13) In Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.7.14 (henceforth, EH).

(14) Ibid. 1.6.2-3, citing as his sources Josephus and Julius Africanus.

(15) Ibid. 1.6.4.

(16) Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica (ed. I. A. Heikel; Eusebius Werke 6; GCS 23; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1913), 8.1.32 (henceforth, DE). Jewish commentators were also aware of the problem of discontinuity in Judah's sovereignty after the exile. The rabbis suggest that even after the exile the Babylonian exilarch continued to rule Israel (see b Sanh. 5a). 4Qp[Gen.sup.a], a fragmentary text from Qumran dating to the Herodian period, also seems to recognize the issue. But how it resolves the matter is unclear, for recent discussion, see K. Pomykala, The Davidic Dynasty Tradition in Early Judaism (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), 180-88; also N. Wieder, `Notes on the New Documents from the Fourth Cave of Qumran', JJS 7 (1956), 72-74; D. Schwartz, `The Messianic Departure from Judah (4Q Patriarchal Blessings)', TZ 37 (1981), 257-66.

(17) Eusebius, DE 8.1.36-37

(18) Ibid. 8.1.45; cf. Josephus, Ant. 15.6.1-4; J.W. 1.22.1.

(19) Eusebius, DE 8.1.32.

(20) George Syncellus, Ecloga Chronographica (ed. A. A. Mosshammer; Leipzig: Teubner, 1984), 383.11-13.

(21) On Epiphanius' and Basil's treatment of Gen. 49:10, see below, pp. 9-11; 12-13.

(22) On Herod's appointment of Ananelus as high priest, see Josephus, Ant. 15.22,39,41,56.

(23) George the Monk, Chronicon (ed. C. de Boor; Leipzig: Teubner, 1904), 300.7-301.2; see also George Syncellus, 383.10-15. (24) See J. A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1950), 392, 399.

(25) Eusebius, DE 8.2.55.

(26) Ibid. 8.2.75; see also Eusebius, Eclogae Propheticae 3.46 (PG 22.1180-83).

(27) Eusebius, DE 8.2.75-79; see also Eclogae Propheticae 3.46 (PG 22.1180-83). The second interpretation of the oracle--and the one Eusebius seems to prefer--reckoned the completion of the appointed time to the reign of Herod the Great, `the first king of foreign stock'. By murdering Alexander's son Hyrcanus, conferring the high priesthood `on obscure and unknown men', and sequestering the high-priestly vestments, Herod brought to an end the orderly anointing of the high priests which had continued uninterrupted to that time (DE 8.2.80-101); see also Chronological Canons (ed. R. Helm; GCS Eusebius Werke 7; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1984), 160.1-162.3 (242F-244F).

(28) On Eusebius' possible dependence on a Jewish tradition see A. Ehrhardt, The Apostolic Succession (London: Lutterworth, 1953), 54-61; Ehrhardt believes this interpretation was mediated to Eusebius through Hippolytus (cf. his Commentary on Daniel 4.30.6). See also F. F. Bruce, Biblical Exegesis in the Qumran Texts (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 61. Two arguments support this view. Against Africanus, Eusebius insists that any identification of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] must preserve the strict periodization of the prophecy into seven and sixty-two weeks. Although this is clearly presented in the Hebrew version, Theodotion (the version on which Eusebius depends) blurs the distinction between the two periods. Secondly, by Eusebius' own calculations the critical point in the chronology of the first sixty-nine weeks, the death of Alexander Jannaeus, occurred over a century before Christ's ministry, which for him represents the final week of the seventy weeks vision. Eusebius does not take credit for formulating the theory, and it is unlikely that Eusebius would have poured so much effort into devising a chronology that so poorly served his own stated purpose of demonstrating the Messianic meaning of Daniel's prophecy. For discussion see Montgomery, Commentary on Daniel, 392.

(29) Epiphanius, Panarion 29.3.3-5 (ed. K. Holl; GCS; Leipzig Hinrichs, 1915).

(30) The Greek text at 29.3.3. (323.13) here reads [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (i.e. [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Holl suggests emending this to [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], implying that the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] continued up to the time of Jesus. This misrepresents Epiphanius' intentions. What Epiphanius is describing here is the end of the `rulers ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])' from Judah at the time of Jesus' birth. The end of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] had already occurred well before Christ's birth (that is, at the time of the death of Jannaeus). In suggesting this emendation, Holl was apparently misled by a passage in Eusebius' Chronicle, which speaks of the end of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] at the time of Herod (242F 160.14-23, ed. R. Helm). But, as already noted (see above, n. 27), Eusebius knows two interpretations of the chronology of Dan. 9::24-27, one that reckons the cutting off of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in the time of Herod, the other after the death of Jannaeus. The interpretation of these verses found in the Chronicle presupposes the former interpretation, whereas Epiphanius' version reflects the latter.

(31) Epiphanius, Pan. See also 51.22.18-21: `....Judea was entirely handed over and became subject to them (the Romans), when the rulers from Judah ceased [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and Herod a gentile was appointed as ruler, even though he was a proselyte. Then Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea and came to proclaim the gospel, when anointed rulers [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) descended from Judah and Aaron came to an end; they had lasted until Alexander, an anointed ruler [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), and Salina, also called Alexandra; thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Jacob: A ruler shall not fail from Judah...'.

(32) Eusebius, Quaestiones Evangelicae ad Stephanum 3.2 (PG 22.895B).

(33) See, for example, Hippolytus, Commentary on Daniel (ed. and trans. M. Lefevre; SC; Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1947), 12.8 (92.25-29). Arguing against `certain mistaken interpreters' [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), Hippolytus of Rome denies that the Jeconiah recorded in Matthew's genealogy could possibly be the same king condemned by Jeremiah. The Rabbis speculated that because of Jeconiah's repentance and exile, God repealed the punishment of childlessness and allowed him to have offspring (cf. 1 Chron. 3:17); see b. Sanh. 37b. For other sources, see H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch (Munich: Beck, 1922), 1.33-34.

(34) Eusebius, Quaestiones 3.2 (PG 22.895 BC). For the Jewish background of this identification of David's son Nathan with the prophet of the same name, see V. Aptowitzer, Parteipolitik der Hasmonaerzeit, 113-16; R. Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church, 348-54.

(35) Eusebius, Quaestiones 10.3 (PG 22.921AB). Directly before this comment, Eusebius quotes the passage in Jeremiah's oracle (22:30) depriving Jeconiah of successors to `rule again in Judah [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])'. Apparently, Eusebius understood this as pronouncing the end of rulers from the tribe of Judah to occupy the Davidic throne. For a similar explanation of the passage, see Ambrose, Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam 3.40-41 (ed. C. Schenkl; CSEL 32.3; Vienna: Tempsky, 1902), 128.7 - 130.17.

(36) Basil of Caesarea, Ep. 236.3 (ed. and trans. Yves Courtonne, Paris: Societe d'Edition `Les Belles Lettres', 1966), 51-52. Although the context of Basil's discussion is unclear, it was apparently intended to refute an opposing interpretation of Jer. 22:28-30 by the Anomoeans.

(37) Ibid. 236.3 (51.7-11). On Zerubbabel's `democratic' rule, see also Theodoret, Interpretatio in Jeremiam (PG 81.628C).

(38) Basil, Ep. 236.3 (51,11-14)

(39) Ibid. 236.3 (52, 27-34)

(40) Hippolytus, On the Benedictions of Isaac, Jacob and Moses 15 (ed. M. Briere, L. Maries, and B. Ch. Mercier; PO 27.1-2), 72.10-11, see also 126 (on Deut, 27:12). The Greek version of the last citation is also attributed to Irenaeus: [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (in W. W. Harvey (ed.), Sancti Irenaei libri quinque adversus haereses (Cambridge: University Press, 1857), 2.487 (fr. 17). For discussion see M. de Jonge, `Hippolytus' "Benedictions of Isaac, Jacob and Moses" and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs', Bijdragen, 46 (1985), 257-60, L. Maries, `Le Messie Issu de Levi chez Hippolyte de Rome', Recherches de Science Religieuse (Melanges J. Lebreton) 39-40 (1951-52), 381-96.

(41) Origen, Selecta in Numeros (PG 12.584C); but cf. Origen, Commentary on John 1.2.11. (42) Preserved evidence of the tradition before the third century is not conclusive; but see A. Jaubert, `Themes Levitiques dans la Prima Clementis', VC 18 (1964), 200-201 (on First Clement 32.2).

(43) This is at any rate the impression created by Hippolytus' discussion of Jacob's blessing of Judah. After treating this blessing as portent of Christ's birth, he attempts to forestall a question apt to be posed by an astute reader ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]): `Why then did Jacob not bless Levi in the same way? For we find that Christ, manifestly priest of the father, was [also] from the tribe of Levi' (On the Benedictions of Isaac, Jacob and Moses 72.8-9).

(44) See below, pp. 20-22.

(45) Eusebius, Supplementa Quaestionum ad Stephanum (PG 22.973AB). For discussion of the other witnesses see W. Bauer, Das Leben Jesu im Zeitalter der neutestamentlichen Apokryphen (Tubingen: Mohr, 1909), 10-13. For the Byzantine material see R. Laurentin, Maria Ecclesia Sacerdotium (Paris: Nouvelles Editions latines, 1952), 66-73. In later Arabic and Greek sources, the doctrine of Jesus' dual lineage is woven into an engaging Jewish/Christian dialogue about Jesus' priesthood and his enrollment in the temple of Jerusalem. According to the Arabic version, the temple priests were in turmoil about a replacement for a recently deceased member of their ranks. When one of them nominated Jesus, the other priests complained that he lacked the proper pedigree. But the priest managed to meet this objection by citing Aaron's marriage. `Enquire and you will learn', he says, `that in the days of Aaron the priest there was an alliance by marriage between Aaron and the tribe of Juda, to which the prophet David bore witness. Now I have enquired much about Jesus, his tribe and genealogy, and I find that his mother Mary is connected with both tribes'. See `The Priesthood of Christ', in The History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church (ed. and trans. B. Evetts; PO 1; Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1907), 120-34, especially p. 125. For the Greek versions, see Suda, s.v. [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (ed. A. Adler: Lexicographi Graeci 1; Leipzig: Teubner, 1931), 2.620.22-625.3, especially 622.23-31; John of Euboea, Sermo in Conceptionem Deiparae (PG 96.1489BC). In Suda's version, the priest establishes Jesus' mixed lineage through the line of Joseph, not Mary. Suda also reports that at the time the temple was destroyed the priests rescued the archive containing Jesus' genealogy and stored it in Tiberias.

(46) For Greek witnesses to the use of Exod.6:23 in this connection see: Africanus Epistle to Aristides 54.24-55.1 (ed. Reichardt); Eusebius, Supplementa Quaestionum ad Stephanum (PG 22.973B); Theodoret, Quaestiones in Exodum 16 (ed. N. Fernandez Marcos and A. Saenz-Badillos; Testos y Estudios 17; Madrid: Poliglota Matritense, 1979), 112.19-113.6, apparently relying on the same source as Eusebius; Gregory Nazianzen, Liber Carminum 1.17.45 (PG 37.484); George the Monk, 283.6-284.4. For Syriac sources see Ephrem, Commentary on the Diatessaron (ed. L. Leloir; SC 121; Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1966), 59 (citing Exod. 6:23 as well as the marriage of the priest Jehoiada to Jehoshabeath; see 2 Chr. 22:11); the Syriac version of Severus of Antioch, Homily 63 (ed. and trans. M. Briere; PO 8; Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1912), 311; Michael the Great, Chronicle 3.7 (ed. and trans. J. B. Chabot; 3 vols. Paris: 1899-1910; repr. Brussels: Culture et Civilisation, 1963), 1.44 (but here confusing Aaron with his son Eleazar).

(47) See George the Monk, 300.24-301.2; George Syncellus, 383.14-15, where the analogy between the ancestry of Jesus and the hereditary high priesthood is clearly drawn.

(48) Basil, Ep. 236.3 (51.12-16, ed. Y. Courtonne).

(49) Ibid. 236.3 (52.35-46).

(50) Eusebius, EH 2.23.6 (quoting Hegesippus): James alone was `allowed to enter into the sanctuary, for he did not wear wool, but linen, so that his knees grew hard like a camel's because of his constant worship of God, kneeling and asking forgiveness for the people'.

(51) Epiphanius, Pan. 29.4.2-4.

(52) Ibid. 29.4.1-4; cf. Exod 28:32; 30:10.

(53) Epiphanius, Pan. On Epiphanius' misrepresentation of the Exodus verse see below, p. 19.

(54) Ibid. On the Manichean charge that Mary was a Levite and hence Jesus was not biologically a `son of David', see below, n. 60.

(55) See below, pp. 20-21. Epiphanius' statement that `Mary was related in two ways to Elizabeth' (78.13.5) is not at all clear.

(56) See Pan. 78.7.6; 78.13.4, where Epiphanius states that James was the brother of Jesus only to the extent that he `was raised with him'.

(57) For discussion see W. Pratscher, Der Herrenbruder Jakobus und die Jakobustradition (FRLANT; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1987), 195. Although Pratscher dismisses Epiphanius' remarks about James' lineage as his own embellishments (Ausschmuckungen)' of an older report from Hegesippus, he acknowledges the discrepancy of this report with Epiphanius' own stated views on James' relationship with Mary (195; n. 35).

(58) Epiphanius, Pan. 29.4.8.

(59) Ibid. 29.3.9.

(60) Theodor Zahn, Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons (Leipzig: A. Deichert, 1900), 6.329 (n. 2). The chief weakness of Zahn's thesis was his suggestion that the original form of the doctrine had to do with a specific claim about Mary's connection with the priesthood. Critics of Zahn pointed out that Mary's alleged Levitical ancestry was not as a rule based on an independent tradition; it was simply an inference from Luke 1:5 and 1:36 (see for example, Origen, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans 1 (PG 14.850C-851A). The best evidence for the existence of an independent tradition is Augustine's Contra Faustum Manichaeum 23.4.9. Here Faustus demands to know how Jesus, born from the daughter of a Levitical priest named Joachim, could legitimately be called a son of David. Augustine's comment that Faustus learned this tradition from an `uncanonical account' led Zahn to speculate that Faustus had read the Infancy Gospel of James. But insofar as the surviving versions of that work identify Joachim as a Davidid, the connection of Mary and her father to the priesthood in this work is not at all clear. It is in any case a slender reed on which to build a case for a `very old' Jewish Christian tradition. For a critique of Zahn's thesis see J. Fischer, Die davidische Abkunft der Mutter Jesu (Vienna: A. Opitz, 1910), 30-34; A. Bauer, Das Leben Jesu im Zeitalter der neutestamentlichen Apokryphen (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1909), 11-17.

(61) If, as Aptowitzer maintains, references to a redeemer from Levi and Judah in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs represent the same ideological perspective, then a Christian interpolator of that work has achieved the same effect. TSim 7.2 describes how `the Lord will raise up from Levi someone as high priest and from Judah someone as king'. To this statement a Christian editor has added `God and man'. For discussion of the depiction of Jesus as Levitical high priest and king in the Testaments, see H. W. Hollander and M. de Jonge, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 76-79.

(62) In his Demonstrations (Hoary. 23.16-20), the Syriac commentator Aphrahat offers an interesting counter interpretation of Exod. 6:23. While acknowledging that the blessing of Judah was transmitted to the sons of Aaron through Elisheba, Aphrahat asserts that both kingship and priesthood originated in the tribe of Judah. Hence, the prerogative of Aaron's offspring descended not from him, but from his wife Elisheba: `Leadership and kingship were from Nahshon, and priesthood was from the son of the sister of Nahshon, who gave birth to Phinehas (!) who assuaged the wrath of God'. With this interpretation, Aphrahat nullified any claims about the royal/priestly birthright of the seed of Levi and Aaron. In the ensuing narrative, Aphrahat argues that, because the blessing of kingship was passed down from Nahshon through David, the iniquities of the kings of the Davidic line were forgiven and the Messiah was born from his seed. For English translation of this section from Aphrahat see J. Neusner, Aphrahat and Judaism (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971), 115-19. The same view is forcefully championed in the Syriac Cave of Treasures, ch. 33 (ed. Su-Min RI; CSCO Scriptores Syri 207; Louvain: Peeters, 1987).

(63) The same misrepresentation of the Exodus verse appears in Suda, s.v. [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (ed. Adler) 3.432: `The sixth from Judah, he married the daughter of Aaron (sic). So it is necessary to recognize that at this point the royal tribe was connected with the priestly'. For discussion, see F. Spitta, Der Brief des Julius Africanus an Aristides kritisch untersucht und hergestellt (Halle: Verlag der Buchhandlung Waisenhauses, 1877), 38-40. (64) Epiphanius, Pan. 29.3.2: `Formerly, David's throne continued by succession until Christ himself, since the rulers from Judah did not fail, `until he came for whom are the things prepared...'. (3.3) For at Christ's arrival the rulers in succession from Judah came to an end... (3.6) But then finally a gentile, King Herod, was crowned, and not David's descendants any more'.

(65) The first attested example of such experimentation appears in the writings of Hippolytus. In this case, it was meant to explain why Matthew named Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and not his father Jehoiakim as the son of Josiah (cf. Matt. 1:11). Matthew, he writes, deliberately skipped over the impious name of Jehoiakim in order to keep the royal Davidic line of Jesus `pure and spotless up to Joseph'. When Susannah, the daughter of the priest Hilkiah (Sus. 1:2; cf. 2 Kings 22:10; 2 Chron. 34:14; Jer. 1:1), married Jehoiachim (=Joakim), the Davidic line was purified by the infusion of blood from the line of the high priests. To convey this point, Matthew omitted the impious name of Jehoiakim, and `jumped ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])' to his son Jeconiah. Through the intermingling of the blood of the two tribes, Matthew also demonstrated `that the seed of Jesus is righteous according to the flesh and that the one born in Bethlehem was also a priest of God' (Hippolytus, Commentary on Daniel 12.5-6 (92.8-19, ed. Lefevre). An anonymous writer mentioned in a catena on Matthew tries the same approach on another problem in Matthew. Here it had to do with the missing fourteenth generation in Matthew's enumeration of Jesus' post-exilic lineage. The author first states that by the term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Matthew meant `person ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])', not generation. He then theorizes that because Mary was a Levite, Matthew intended her to be the missing fourteenth person. In this way, `the Lord might be shown to have arisen according to the flesh from royal and priestly stock' (cited in J. A. Cramer (ed.), Catenae Graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum vol. 1: Catenae in Evangelia. S. Matthaei et S. Marci ad fidem Codd. Mss. 1.17 (Hildesheim: Olms, 1967), 8.9-21).

(66) Eusebius, Supplementa Quaestionum ad Stephanum (PG 22.973). On Eusebius' claim (probably based on Num. 36:8) that Jewish law prohibited intertribal marriage see Quaestiones 1.7 (PC 22.888D-889C). To establish that Luke's use of the term implied only that Mary and Elizabeth were Israelites, Eusebius cites Paul's use of the same word in Rom. 9:3, which in Eusebius' view proves that `all the tribes were related ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to one another' (PG 22.889AB). Both of these arguments were probably borrowed from Origen; see Origen, Commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Romans (PG 14.851AB).

(67) Julius Africanus, Ep. Arist. 54.25-55.1 (ed. Reichardt). According to Africanus, advocates of this interpretation made a point of mentioning that Eleazar's wife, a `daughter of Putiel' (see Exod. 6:25), also belonged to the tribe of Judah. This may reflect an internal Jewish controversy about the ancestry of Eleazar's son Phinehas, a hero of the Hasmonean dynasty. Jewish sources have conflicting versions about the identity of Putiel. Sifre Numb., par 157, identifies him as Joseph. On the other hand, in Tg. Ps-J. (on Exod. 6:25), Putiel is the idolater Jethro. For discussion see Aptowitzer, Parteipolitik, 4-12, 27-30, also Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 6.138 (nn. 800, 804).

(68) Ibid. 55.5-56.30 (ed. Reichardt). Oh the identification of David's son with the prophet Nathan see above, p. 12 (n. 34). For later sources attesting this same explanation see P. Vogt, Der Stammbaum Christi bei den heiligen Evangelisten Matthaus und Lukas (BibS 12.3; Freiburg: Herder, 1907), 35-41.

(69) For Africanus' critique see 55.17-34; 20-30; 56.1-8 (ed. Reichardt). Africanus, possessed of a keen interest in and knowledge of Jewish history and customs, seems to have recognized the fault lines in his opponents' attempted synthesis of the two opposing genealogies. He admonishes them for confusing the `tribe of Judah' with the `line of David'. And while accepting the possibility that David's son Nathan was a prophet, Africanus categorically rejects the suggestion that he was also a priest. Priests, he writes, were only Levites, so if one were to posit Nathan's priesthood, one would have to do the same for both Solomon and David. Augustine later tried to accommodate Africanus' criticisms by casting David and Nathan as non-Levitical priests; see Augustine, De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus liber 61.2 (ed. A. Mutzenbecher; CCL 44A; Turnholt: Brepols,).

(70) For discussion of Africanus' polemic against this rival school see F. Spitta Der Brief des Julius Africanus, 37-59.

(71) Eusebius, EH 1.7.17. Eusebius restates here the same point that he makes earlier in the Quaestiones, namely that the prohibition in Numbers against intertribal marriage meant that Mary and Joseph must have been Davidids of the tribe of Judah (see above, n. 66). But he does not explain how Africanus' theory of Levirate marriage proved this.

(72) Ibid, 1.7.1.

(73) Ibid. 1.6.11. At this passage, the Loeb translation by Kirsopp Lake creates the impression that Eusebius considered the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to be Jesus. But Eusebius refers his readers to his treatment of this verse elsewhere, and in every other place where Eusebius discusses Dan. 9:25, he identifies the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as the Jewish high priesthood.

(74) Ibid. 1.6.

(75) Ibid. 1.6.8 (trans. K. Lake; LCL).

(76) See above, p. 6.

(77) Eusebius, EH 1.3.18: `For the narrative does not relate that he was anointed physically by the Jews or even that he was of the tribe of those who hold the priesthood', See also 1.3.11: `For he received from none the symbol and types of the high priesthood, nor did he trace his physical descent from the race of priests'.
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Author:Adler, William
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Date:Apr 1, 1997
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