I am working on a writing project and in preparation, I did a lot of research on the apostle. I read many commentaries on the scriptures and other writings not included in the bible such as the Nag Hammadi collection. It has been fascinating and fun to get to know these characters. I learned that in addition to twelve men in his core group, there were also seven women.
In addition, I learned that:
- some of these were blood relations of Jesus. James and John, the sons of Zebedee and fishermen, were Jesus first cousins through their mothers, Mary and Salome who were sisters. It made a bit of sense that these were the first that Jesus drafted and that his Aunt Salome (or his cousins, John and James) approached Jesus to ask that they be able to serve beside him in the kingdom which they thought to be earthly.
- James, Jesus brother was the leader of the early church, not Peter. I have to say that in my readings, Peter does not come up smelling like a rose. He continued to miss the point of many of his teachings long after Jesus death and resurrection.
- Jesus had brothers and sisters, which many Protestants believe no matter what the Catholic Church teaches. After learning this, I could appreciate Jesus’ mother fussing at the wedding feast of Cana where she showed so much concern about the fact that the wine was dwindling. I used to wonder at her nerve of stepping in and taking over like that. What a buddinski, I thought. But it could have been the wedding of one of her sons or daughters. Without Joseph, I could understand that she would turn to her son to take control of the situation.
- there was another apostle named Judas besides Judas the betrayer who was called Jude (the name Thaddeus is also used for him.) He is said to be Jesus’ brother.
- Mary Magdelene was not a prostitute, as I was taught by the Church. She was a follower and close friend to Jesus. She may have been from Magdela or she may be Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who “chose the better part” after she was criticized by her sister Martha for being lazy. I like this last possibility.
- Judas the betrayer is said to have been a zealot, but he is not the only one among the apostles. Others are Philip, Nathaniel, Simon Peter and Andrew.
- Matthew turned out to be my favorite apostle. He was a story-teller prone to exaggeration, warm hearted toward women, and a peace-maker. He was a bit lax when it came to Jewish law (and he really liked it that Jesus was also.)
- It is a tradition that there were twelve apostles but I can’t ignore that fact that Jesus brother James was part of his inner circle as well. One writing has Jesus actually naming him to take over leadership of the movement after his death.
So very interesting!