The Vegetarianism of John the Baptist, James the Just
There is both biblical and strong historical evidence that John the Baptist was a vegetarian who abhorred the idea of killing for food and who would not drink wine. As far as the issue of wine is concerned, this is easily settled. For even the canonical Bible makes this point abundantly clear. This is what an angel said to Zechariah concerning John:
“He will be a great man in the Lord’s sight. HE MUST NOT DRINK ANY WINE OR STRONG DRINK. From his very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit” [Luke 1:15].
This verse is sufficient for the traditional Christians. But this verse implies that John was to be a Nazarite from birth. Extra-biblical evidence implies that the Nazarites did not only abstain from wine and alcoholic beverages but that they also abstained from animal sacrifice and the eating of flesh from any living creature. The Nazarites were despised in their day and were also cursed by the Jewish priests. This is not surprising, since the Bible itself shows that the true and faithful Prophets of God, who spoke against sacrifice, were killed by the Jews of their day. Jeremiah was stoned. Isaiah was sawn asunder. Amos was crucified. Even Stephen was stoned because he attacked the sacrificial cult of the Jewish Temple. Jesus himself was killed within several days after he interrupted the Temple sacrifice. In the Jewish Midrash itself we find a negative attitude towards the Nazarites. The Rabbinists insist that the Nazarite vow was suitable for the rabble only and the worst class of the Jews. In the Jewish Pentateuch we find somewhat distorted picture of the Nazarites and the rite they undertook. It is clearly said that they did not drink wine or any fermented drinks. But nothing is said of the abstention from animal flesh. Although the statement that they must not come anywhere near the dead body could imply that they did not eat flesh of the slaughtered and therefore dead animal. The termination of the Nazarite vow is falsely described in Numbers 6 by the “lying pen of the scribes” and nothing is said of the vow which inaugurated the Nazarite into his consecration.
But there is some extra-canonical evidence which shows that the rite of the Nazarites which officially inaugurated them into their lifelong devotion to God clearly included the renouncement of both flesh and wine. The Nazarite order was open to both males and females of ancient Israel while the Jewish traditional religion was open only to the males through circumcision. The women in ancient Israel were treated like animals. A man or woman who wanted to become the member of the Nazarite community was required to see the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The candidate had to be accompanied by two witnesses who were to take with them a young pigeon, a bottle of alcoholic wine, and a cake mingled with oil. The inauguration ceremony demanded of a candidate to set the young pigeon free and pronounce the following words in the hearing of the priest and the witnesses:
“Henceforth I renounce the flesh of bird or beast or fish, and the use of dead bodies.”
Then the candidate was to pour out the wine and say:
“Henceforth I renounce wine and strong drinks wherein is drunkenness, no flesh or strong drink shall enter my mouth, but the fruits of the earth which God hath given me.”
Then the priest pronounced the following words:
“The Lord had heard thy vow, and the God of Jacob defend thee.”
After the ceremony is completed, the priest, the candidate - now Nazarite - and the two witnesses partook of the cake mingled with oil. The meal was known as PURE OBLATION and the PEACE OFFERING. It is important to point out that in the Lukan version, John the Baptist was to abstain from wine and strong drink only. But in the Gospel of the Holy Twelve it is clearly stated that he was also to abstain from animal flesh:
”for he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, AND SHALL NEITHER EAT FLESH MEATS, NOR DRINK STRONG DRINK; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”
The same fact is recorded in the Essene Humane Gospel:
“for John shall be great in the eyes of the Lord, and HE SHALL EAT NO ANIMAL FLESH, NOR DRINK STRONG DRINK AT ANY TIME; he being filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his very beginning, from his mother’s womb.”
That these two versions are correct and that the reference to abstention from flesh was deleted from the Lukan version can be demonstrated from two independent and very reliable witnesses. One is Jesus himself, the other Josephus, the Jewish historian. When Jesus spoke of John the Baptist he said that John came “neither eating nor drinking.” Jesus did not mean that John was “breatherian” absolutely eating and drinking nothing. Jesus meant that John came neither eating animal flesh nor drinking wine. This fact is obvious from the comparison with Jesus. Jesus said that John came “neither eating nor drinking” while the Son of Man [Jesus] came “eating and drinking” with the sinners and publicans. Because of this the Pharisees styled Jesus “gluttonous” and “winebibber.”
At this point we shall not deal with the statement which implies that Jesus ate flesh and drank wine since I quoted this at this point to show beyond refute that Jesus testified that John the Baptist was indeed VEGETARIAN who neither ate animal flesh nor drank wine and other alcoholic beverages. So here in the clear language we are told by very Jesus that John the Baptist did not eat animal flesh nor did he drink wine. Jesus’ statement therefore agrees with the statement of an angel - recorded in the Gospel of the Holy Twelve and the Essene Humane Gospel. The angel said that John will neither eat the flesh of an animal nor would he drink wine. Josephus, who was born in 37 c.e. wrote two histories of the Jewish people, The Antiquities of the Jews, and The Jewish War. There are various versions preserved in different languages. One edition, discovered late in the 19th century, is known as the Slavonic edition. Dr. Robert Eisler believes that the Slavonic version was translated directly from the Aramaic writings of Josephus. In this Slavonic edition of The Jewish War, Josephus clearly refers to John the Baptist and corroborates the fact that he was strict vegetarian who would neither eat flesh of animals nor would drink wine:
“At that time a man was going about Judea remarkably dressed: he wore animal hair on those parts of his body not covered by his own. His face was like a savage’s….His message was eagerly welcomed, and he was followed by all Judea and the district around Jerusalem. All he did was to baptize them in the Jordan and dismiss them with an exhortation to abandon their evil ways…He was a strange creature, not like a man at all. He lived like a disembodied spirit…WINE AND OTHER STRONG DRINK HE WOULD NOT ALLOW TO BE BROUGHT ANYWHERE NEAR HIM, AND ANIMAL FOOD HE ABSOLUTELY REFUSED - FRUIT WAS ALL THAT HE NEEDED. The whole object of his life was to show evil in its true colors.”
In the canonical Matthew it is stated that John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. But we know that the original gospel of Matthew which was written in Aramaic and which alone was accepted by the Ebionites as authentic and inspired gives the following version: “And his food was WILD HONEY which had the taste of manna, like a HONEY-CAKE in oil”. Greek word for honey-cake is enkris while for locust is akris. Thus it is apparent that either original translator altered the meaning or else a later redactor did so. John actually ate WILD HONEY - that is, NATURAL HONEY which was not made by bees. The word wild in Matthew 3:4 comes from the Greek word agrios which is number #66 in Strong’s Dictionary and is defined in the following manner:
“wild [as pertaining to the country], lit. NATURAL”.
Thayer in The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon on p. 71 under word number #66 states in regards to meli agrios the following:
“wild honey...more correctly that which distils from certain trees, and is gathered when it becomes hard”.
Thayer also points out that this type of food was also very common among Nabathaean Arabians. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary on p. 575 points out that Arabic word for fruit syrup is the same as the Hebrew word for honey made by bees. Please note:
“The word “honey” can also refer to a thick syrup made from grapes and dates. In Arabic, the word used for this kind of fruit syrup is the same as the Hebrew word for honey from bees”.
John the Baptist neither killed locusts for his food nor did he steal honey from bees. He ate WILD HONEY - that is, HARDENED NATURAL SYRUP made on trees which, according to Hebrew Matthew, tasted like honey-cake in oil. Josephus therefore who was well informed historian and who was the contemporary of the Apostles, was correct when he said that John the Baptist absolutely refused to partake of animal flesh. James the Just was the brother of Jesus. He was the bulwark and the “hero” for all Jewish “Christianity.” His reputation was so great that all Apostles, except Paul, voluntarily submitted to his leadership. Even in the canonical book of Acts it is evident that James exercised supreme authority among the Apostles - as it was he who actually presided over the so-called Jerusalem council. Evidence from various early sources clearly demonstrates that James was both the appointed “Bishop” of the “Church” and that he was also vegetarian from his mother’s womb. In the Gospel of Thomas it is said that Jesus told his disciples to go to James whenever they have a dispute or anything to resolve - since he is to be their chief leader. Rabbi Philip Sigal writes:
“Christian Judaism continued to survive west of Jordan River and south and east of the Dead Sea. It survived in the variegated sects known to patristic writers, most notably as Ebionites. The Christian-Jewish church of JAMES predominated until 70 c.e., and while significance of JAMES IS DIMINISHED IN CANONICAL CHRISTIAN LITERATEURE, THE NOW AVAILABLE NAG HAMMADI LITERATURE HIGHLIGHTS THE MAJOR ROLE HE PLAYED. It is clear that some Christians believed Jesus FIRST APPEARED TO JAMES, AND THAT THE DISCIPLES CHOSE JAMES AS BISHOP…the Ebionites continued to look upon JAMES as their LEGITIMATE LEADER of the church of Jesus” [Judaism - The Evolution of a Faith, pp. 82-83].
. Eusebius Pamphilus - of the 3rd and 4th centuries, in his classical work Ecclesiastical History which covers the history up to the time of Constantine, writes of James:
“This James, therefore, whom the ancients, on account of the excellence of his virtue, surnamed the Just, was the FIRST THAT RECEIVED THE EPISCOPATE OF THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM…The Lord imparted the gift of knowledge to James the Just, to John and Peter after his resurrection, these delivered it to the rest of the apostles, and they to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one.” Eusebius based himself on 6th book of the Institutions, which was written by Clement in the 1st century. St. Jerome in his book Lives of Illustrious Men wrote of James: “James, who is called the brother of the Lord, surnamed the Just…after our Lord’s passion AT ONCE ORDAINED BY THE APOSTLES BISHOP OF JERUSALEM…James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was MADE HEAD OF THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM.”
Eusebious, the greatest Church historian of those early centuries, explicitly says that James was chosen and appointed Bishop by his brother Jesus himself:
“The chair of James, who first received the episcopate of the Church at Jerusalem FROM THE SAVIOUR HIMSELF and the Apostles, and who, as the divine records show, was called a brother of Christ, has been preserved until now.”
Eusebious says that James was appointed Bishop by Jesus himself and that his office was functioning as late as the 4th century - when Eusebious wrote. When James was martyrdom in 62 c.e. he was succeeded by his cousin Symeon. Symeon was succeeded by Justus. All these great men and leaders were held in high esteem by the Ebionites - who were strict vegetarians. Apostle Peter in the Recognitions of Clement instructs all the teachers outside the headquarters that they should not accept anyone claiming to be apostle or teacher unless he brings some credentials from James the Just or some others immediately under his authority:
“Wherefore observe the greatest caution, that you believe no teacher, UNLESS HE BRINGS FROM JERUSALEM THE TESTIMONIAL OF JAMES THE LORD’S BROTHER, or of whosoever may come after him.”
In the Clementine Homilies Peter says:
“Wherefore, above all, remember to shun apostle or teacher or prophet who does not first accurately compare his preaching WITH THAT OF JAMES, WHO WAS CALLED THE BROTHER OF MY LORD, AND TO WHOM WAS ENTRUSTED TO ADMINISTER THE CHURCH OF THE HEBREWS IN JERUSALEM.”
In the Gospel of John, James is portrayed as unbeliever. Even while Jesus was dying his brothers were supposedly still in unbelief, hence Jesus had to commit his mother to John to take care of her. It is commonly assumed by traditional theologians that James became believer and accepted Jesus as the Messiah only after Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection. But this assumption cannot be true. After his resurrection Jesus never revealed himself to any unbeliever but only to those who believed and were in fact very close to him. But the earliest Gospel of Matthew - written in Hebrew - and which was already known to Hegesepius in the early 2nd century a completely different James immerges. This Gospel was known even to St. Jerome and he claimed that he personally obtained a copy of it from the Nazarenes. St. Jerome testified that this Gospel was preserved in the library of Caesarea as late as the 4th century. St. Jerome’s testimony is preserved in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, on p. 362:
“Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetime publican, composed a gospel of Christ AT FIRST PUBLISHED IN JUDAEA IN HEBREW…but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. THE HEBREW ITSELF HAS BEEN PRESERVED UNTIL THE PRESENT DAY IN THE LIBRARY AT CAESAREA which Pamphilus [Eusebius] so diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having the volume described to me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, a city of Syria, who use it.”
St. Jerome says that he actually translated this Hebrew Gospel of Matthew into Latin. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, on p. 182 corroborates this fact:
“Jerome mentions a Hebrew Gospel used by the Ebionites, and a Hebrew Gospel used by the Nazaraeans, Jewish-Christians of Beroea near Aleppo, Syria. He says that he translated such a Gospel of the Hebrews into Latin, AND REPRODUCES MANY CITATIONS FROM IT. A copy of the Gospel of the Hebrews was kept in the library at Caesarea.”
So then we are interested just what does this Hebrew Gospel has to say concerning James, the brother of Jesus. In this Gospel a different James immerges, James who was not only a believer in Jesus but who also not only believed in his Messiahship but was convinced that Jesus would rise from the dead. In fact, he was so sure that Jesus would reappear again after his death, that he vowed not to eat anything until he sees Jesus alive. Please note:
“Now when the Lord had given his linen garment to the priest’s servant, he went to James and appeared to him. For James had vowed that he would eat no bread FROM THAT HOUR WHEN HE HAD DRUNK THE CUP OF THE LORD UNTIL HE SAW HIM RISING FROM THE DEAD. Bring a table and bread, said the Lord; He took bread and gave thanks and broke it, and thereafter he gave it to James the Just and said to him: My brother, eat your bread, because the Son of Man has risen from those who sleep.” Immediately after this quote, F.F. Bruce makes the following remark: “None of the canonical Gospels records that the risen Christ appeared to James. Paul briefly states that he did so [1 Cor. 15:7], having probably received the information from James himself [Gal. 1:19], where Paul mentions that he met ‘James the Lord’s brother’ in Jerusalem in the third year after his conversion. IF WE HAD NO REFERENCE AT ALL TO SUCH AN APPEARANCE TO JAMES, WE SHOULD BE COMPELLED TO POSTULATE THAT SOMETHING OF THE SORT TOOK PLACE: OTHERWISE IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND HOW JAMES AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY, WHO REMAINED ALOOF FROM JESUS DURING HIS PALESTINIAN MINISTRY, CAME TO BE CLOSELY AND PROMINENTLY ASSOCIATED WITH HIS FOLLOWERS AFTER HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION.”
Bruce insinuates that Jesus appeared to James after his resurrection and “made” him believe in him. He insinuates that if Jesus did not appear to James then he and his brothers would have remained in unbelief. But nothing can be further from the truth. After Jesus rose from the dead he NEVER appeared to any unbeliever - even according to Paul. Only the believers and even not all believers saw Jesus after his resurrection. The person who first saw Jesus was regarded as the most important and influential Apostle. According to the Johanine Community - among whom the Gospel of John and the Epistles bearing the same name - were most prominent of the New Testament writings, Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom Jesus appeared. For them, therefore, Mary was the most prominent Disciple and in fact the Lady of the Community. In the second epistle of John the leader of the Johanine Community is addressed by the title “LADY” whose children are also referred to. Those who don’t know what the Johanine Community believed and taught assume that by this title the “church” is addressed. But the context does not allow this interpretation. The Johanine Community never used the title APOSTLE and in fact this title never appears in the Gospel of John and the epistles which bear the same name. The writer of the Gospel of John identifies himself by the title DISCIPLE and by the title ELDER in the epistles.
Among the Gentile Christians - and especially those who followed the Roman Catholicism - Peter was the first person to see the risen Jesus and therefore they maintain that Peter was the Bishop and the supreme Pontiff of the Church. In their view, the Pope is the legitimate successor of Peter, the chief Bishop. But those who claim this must nullify and reject the passages in the Gospels which claim that Mary and even some other women saw Jesus before Peter did. They must especially reject the testimony written in John 20 where it is clearly said that Mary first found the empty tomb and then reported this to Peter and presumably John - identified here as the other disciple - generally said “whom Jesus loved.” Both Peter and John ran to the tomb and after Peter walked inside the tomb, he discovered that the body was not there. It is explicitly said that as yet they did not know that Jesus was meant to rise from the dead - even though elsewhere it is recorded that Jesus clearly told them that he would rise from the dead in three days. In fact, even the chief priests were aware of this, that is why they asked Pilate to guard the tomb for three days lest his body be stolen and the disciples would proclaim that Jesus arose from the dead. Only after Peter and John went home did Jesus identify himself to Mary and asked her to go and tell his disciples that he is alive. This irrefutably proves [if you accept the text as authentic and inspired] that Mary saw Jesus first and that Peter had no idea that Jesus was alive as yet.
But the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew clearly shows that James the Just was in fact present during the Love Supper when Jesus served the BREAD and whatever was in the CUP. It is explicitly said that James actually DRANK FROM THE CUP and that then he made a vow that he would not taste any food until he sees his brother Jesus alive after his death. If this text is true and genuine - and there is no reason to doubt it - then it is easy to explain just why James was chosen to be the LEADER and the HEAD of the COMMUNITY. Josephus and some other early writers say that James was so righteous and advocated ethical behaviour, that all the people gave him the nickname JUST. In fact, Josephus goes on to say that many Jews believed that the destruction of the City was on account of James’ s martyrdom. All the early writers and the Church Fathers unanimously testified that James the Just was an absolute vegetarian from his birth and that he never tasted wine or other alcoholic beverages. Hegesepius who lived not long after the Apostles wrote everything he knew about them. His writings were often quoted by the later Church Fathers. This is what Hegesepius had to say concerning James the Just:
“James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ATE NO FLESH, never shaved” [The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. p. 361].
Eusebius Pamphilius wrote:
“This apostle was consecrated from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor fermented liquors, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came upon his head” [Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, p. 76].
St. Augustine wrote:
“St. James never ate animal food, living on seeds and vegetables, never tasting flesh or wine” [Ecclesiastical History, 2 Vols. Translated by H.J. Lawlor and J.E.L. Oulton].
James was a vegetarian. He also abstained from wine. But James was not just a passive vegetarian who kept it to himself. He continually spoke about it from the steps of the Temple and in these rhetoric speeches James vigorously repudiated and condemned the Jewish sacrificial cult and he spoke against the fire of the altar. Church Father Epiphanius referred to an early manuscript which the Ebionites possessed. He called it The Ascent of James. In this document it was plainly recorded that James spoke against the Temple and its barbarianism. James argued that the Temple was not a place of slaughter but rather a place of prayer. In order to demonstrate this and to prove the point, James went to the Temple daily and prayed on his knees for hours at the time.St. Jerome tells us that James:
“went alone into the temple and prayed on behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camel’s knees” [The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. p. 361].
James prayed so much in order to demonstrate the sole purpose of the Temple. He did not go there to participate in the sacrificial rites. He in fact spoke against sacrifices and altar, as James Meeks clearly points out:
“James spoke against the Temple and the sacrifices and against the fire of the altar” [Meeks, The Writings of Paul, p. 171].
For this very reason James was highly esteemed by the Ebionites who abhorred the sacrificial cult of the Jews.Professor Matthew Black states:
“...for James the Temple was a place of prayer only; any participation in the Temple cultus was avoided. He prayed daily in the Temple, until his knees were swollen like those of a camel, for the forgiveness of the sins of his people, waiting for the deliverance of the coming Son of Man: but he did not take any part in the sacrifices and was eventually martyred on the instigation of the Sadducees” [The Scrolls and Christian Origins, p. 82].
The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 3, has this to say concerning the Ascents of James:
“A document mentioned in connection with the Ebionites by Epiphanius [Pan. 30.16], who says it presented James as speaking against the Temple, sacrifice, and the altar fire. It was also violently hostile to Paul.”
In Isaiah 56 God Himself calls the Temple: My House of PRAYER. God did not only regard His House a place of PRAYER and not a place of BUTCHERY - but He wanted ALL NATIONS and EUNUCHS to take part in His place of PRAYER. The Jews who based their religion on the falsified Torah of Moses regarded Gentiles as DOGS. They could not allow these “dogs” to come and worship God in the HOUSE OF PRAYER. They even banned the lame and blind from the Temple - as did also the tyrant David. Jesus however, welcomed the lame and the blind to the Temple, just as soon as he took control of it. The Pharisees also banned all eunuchs from entering the Temple. They were based on the lying text of Deuteronomy which says that anyone castrated may never be accepted into God’s community. That the text is false is evident from the fact that God loved Daniel and called him “beloved” although Daniel was castrated and therefore a eunuch. We also know from the writings of the Church Fathers that not only James but also other Apostles and the entire Ebionite Movement adhered to vegetarianism and abstained from wine.Church Father St. Chrysostom wrote:
“The apostle Matthew lived upon seeds, grains, nuts and vegetables, without the use of flesh” [Williams, Ethics of Diet].
Church Father Clement of Alexandria wrote:
“Matthew, the apostle, lived upon seeds and hard shelled fruits and other vegetables without touching flesh” [Clement of Alexandria, The Tutor, translated by Wilson].
Dr. Larson points to an early Christian document which depicts Apostle Judas Thomas as abstaining from eating of flesh and drinking of wine [The Religion of Occident]. From the Acts of Thomas we learn that this Apostle was also vegetarian and that he served only vegetarian food to those who came to hear his words. Apostle Peter was also vegetarian - a fact evident from several sources. In Acts 10:11-16 and 11:5-10 we read that Peter refused to kill any animal for food which he saw in a vision - even though a voice from heaven urged him to do so. To many this however does not prove that he was vegetarian. Some argue that Peter refused to kill these animals because they were “unclean” according to the Mosaic law. But the text says that in the four-cornered sheet there were:
“all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air” [KJV].
When this is compared with Genesis 1, it becomes apparent that the four-cornered sheet contained both “clean” and “unclean” animals as far as the Mosaic law of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 is concerned. Peter could have surely found at least some animals which he could have killed. But Christians in general have problem whichever way we interpret this vision. If the animals were all “unclean” - that is, only those which the Mosaic law excluded from the Jewish diet - Peter should have still killed this animals for food. This is because Christians generally teach that the Mosaic law was abolished by Jesus. Is it not recorded in Mark 7 that Jesus taught the people - and especially Peter - that “nothing can defile a man which comes from outside” because it does not enter his heart but rather his stomach? It is said that Jesus argued and maintained that “all foods” are discharged and therefore they cannot defile a man. Only what comes out of a man - said Jesus - could defile a man. The action of Peter however, clearly shows that this text was not authentic. The text was obviously not in existence in the days of Paul. Nor was there an oral tradition that Jesus ever spoke these words. If Jesus really taught this, and if he really permitted his disciples to eat meat and any food they wanted - then Paul would have referred to this saying when he had problems with those believers who refused to eat flesh and drink wine and who in fact condemned those who did so. Paul’s silence proves that the text of Mark 7 is a forgery. There are however other passages of the early documents which clearly show just why Peter did not kill any animal for food. Church Father Epiphanius wrote that the Ebionites abstained from flesh because their example was Apostle Peter:
“They refused to partake of flesh and wine, taking as their pattern, St. Peter, whose food was BREAD, OLIVES and HERBS.”
In Clementine Homilies Peter tells Clement concerning his diet from which statement we can clearly deduce that Peter was in fact vegetarian:
“I live on bread alone, with olives, and seldom even with pot herbs…and having these I require nothing more.”
In Homily XII Peter says:
“The UNNATURAL EATING OF THE FLESH is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and impure feasts, through participation in which man becomes a fellow eater with Devils” [See Rev. Todd’s book, On Behalf of the Creatures.”
In another place of Clementine Homilies Peter refers to the bastard sons of the Watchers. From this saying it is clear to see that Peter regarded flesh eating as “unnatural” and that he therefore had to be an abstainer from flesh eating:
“Therefore God, knowing that they were barbarized to brutality…that they might not through want of food turn, CONTRARY TO NATURE, to the eating of animals, and yet seem to be blameless.”
The Recognitions of Clement and the Clementine Homilies which were written late in the first century - clearly depict Apostle Peter as vegetarian and non-drinker of wine. Peter is not only vegetarian himself, but in fact condemns animal sacrifice and the eating of animal flesh, claiming that those who do so actually partake of the table of demons. But there is another source which strongly implies that Peter was actually vegetarian. This testimony comes from a non-religious source and therefore should be regarded as unbiased and credible evidence. The witness is Pliny, the Governor of Bythinia, where Peter preached the Good News. The believers in Bythinia whom Peter converted [1 Peter 1:1] were described by Pliny the Governor of Bythinia as VEGETARIAN who abstained from FLESH FOOD. Pliny the Younger whose proper name was Gainus Plinus Secondus, lived between 53c.e. and 110c.e. and was the Governor of Bythinia during the reign of emperor Trajan. If the believers who were converted and supervised by Apostle Peter were vegetarian, it naturally follows that Peter was also vegetarian and that it was he who in the first place taught them this virtuous practice. If John the Baptist, James the Just, Matthew, Thomas, and Peter were all vegetarian - it is only reasonable to conclude that all other Apostles were also vegetarian. Prophet Daniel also refused to eat meat and drink wine. He asked for a vegetarian diet - the things that spring out of the Earth:
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s MEAT, nor with the WINE...Thus Melzer took away the portion of their MEAT, and WINE that they should drink; and gave them vegetables” [Daniel 1:8,16].
Daniel believed that eating flesh causes defilement. He refused to partake of bloody flesh and instead asked for the things which grow out of the earth - in accordance with Genesis 1:29. As a result, Daniel received a gift to understand all visions and dreams [1:17]. May we like Daniel also feed on harmless and innocent food. May we not cut the throats of innocent animals and shed their pure and innocent blood in order to satisfy our cravings and lusts. Josephus, a great Jewish historian, admits that Daniel was vegetarian and that he in fact abhorred the flesh foods:
“Now Daniel and his kinsmen had resolved to…abstain from those kinds of food which came from the king’s table, AND ENTIRELY TO FOREBEAR TO EAT OF ALL LIVING CREATURES…and desired him [chief officer] to take and spend what was brought for them from the king; but to give them pulse and dates for their food, and anything else, BESIDES THE FLESH OF LIVING CREATURES, that he pleased, for that their inclinations were to that sort of food, AND THAT THEY DESPISED THE OTHER” [The Works of Josephus, p. 279, translated by William Whiston].
Daniel and his three cousins would not resort to the eating of flesh nor would they drink wine and other intoxicating beverages - just like the Nasaraeans of ancient Gilead and Bashan and the great men of the New Testament.
Paul's Vegetarian Followers - Emmisarries of James
If Jesus and the Twelve sanctioned the flesh diet and the consumption of alcoholic beverages - moreover, if they themselves ate animal flesh and drank wine - then we would not expect believers and followers of the Twelve to insist on vegetarianism and abstention from wine and other fermented drinks. On the other hand, if Jesus and the Twelve were in fact vegetarians and if they instructed their followers to adhere to a vegetarian diet, we should expect at least some evidence in the writings of Paul that this was the case. When we carefully sift through the epistles of Paul we do not only discover that there were believers in the assemblies Paul established who insisted on vegetarianism and who also abstained from wine, but we also discover that they appealed to the Jerusalem Apostles in order to justify their practice.
It was in fact the emissaries of James, the brother of Jesus, and the Elders from Jerusalem, who actually made Paul’s converts aware that vegetarianism and abstention from alcoholic beverages is a requirement which Jesus himself imposed on all his true disciples and followers. Paul of course rejected vegetarianism and sanctioned the flesh diet and consumption of fermented beverages. He taught that every creature God created was all right to eat [1 Timothy 4:4]. He insisted that to the pure all things are pure while to defiled nothing was pure [Titus 10,15]. He claimed that food had no bearing on the relationship with God [1 Corinthians 8:8]. He instructed his followers to buy whatever meat was sold at the meat market [1 Corinthians 10:25]. He also instructed his followers to eat whatever their unbelieving friends may serve at the table. This included a sacrificial flesh, providing the host did not raise the issue. And even then, Paul told them to abstain not because it was wrong to eat flesh sacrificed to idols, but rather because of the unbelievers’ and weak brothers’ conscience [1 Corinthians 10:15,27].
Despite the fact that Paul rejected vegetarianism and in 1 Timothy 4:1-4 claimed that those who insisted on vegetarianism were actually teaching the “doctrines of demons,” many of his followers rejected Paul and his views and actually practiced vegetarianism. Romans 14 indisputably proves that there were two types of believers in Rome. One group consumed animal flesh and wine while other group practiced vegetarianism and also abstained from wine.Please note:
“Welcome all the Lord’s followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don’t criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak WILL EAT ONLY VEGETABLES” [Romans 14:1-2 The Bible for Today].
These verses clearly prove that some believers in Rome did not eat animal flesh but were actually VEGETARIANS. Paul of course regarded this group as “weak” while the flesh eaters as “strong.” Romans 14:21 explicitly points out that the issue was flesh and wine. Please note:
“It’s best not to EAT MEAT or DRINK WINE or do anything else that causes problems for other followers of the Lord” [The Bible for Today].
This text plainly states that eating meat and drinking wine could cause problems to other followers of Jesus. The phrase causes problems used in The Bible for Today is translated from the Greek word skandalizo, number #4624 in Strong’s and means:
“scandalize; apostasy, displeasure.”
The word scandilize is thus defined by the Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary, Vol. 2. on p. 595:
“To shock the moral feelings of, as by improper, frivolous, or offensive conduct.”
It is evident therefore that certain followers of Jesus in Rome practiced vegetarianism and held very strong belief on the issue of meat and wine. It is also clear that some believers in Corinth were also vegetarians:
“Don’t cause problems for someone with a weak conscience, just because you have the right to eat anything. So if I hurt one of the Lord’s followers by what I eat, I will never eat meat as long as I live” [1 Corinthians 8:9,13 The Bible for Today].
The word hurt used here was also translated from the Greek word skandalizo. Therefore it follows that certain believers in Rome and Corinth practiced vegetarianism and they also abstained from wine. These believers could not tolerate those who consumed animal flesh and drank wine so Paul instructs those who ate meat and drank wine to better abstain from so doing rather than cause scandal in the congregation. In Colossians we discover that those who practiced vegetarianism actually criticised and condemned those believers who ate animal flesh and drank wine. Please note:
"So don’t let anyone pass judgement on you in connection with eating and drinking, or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Chodesh or Shabbat” [Colossians 2:16 Jewish New Testament].
This book does not deal with the subject of Jewish festivals and the Sabbath. So I will limit myself to the issue of eating and drinking. Please note how Paul states that the Colossians should not allow anyone to criticize them or pass judgement upon them for what they EAT and DRINK. By nature we must eat and drink in order to stay alive. The text does not refer to simple diet or drinking of water. For no one would condemn Colossians for drinking water or simply eating fruits, seeds and herbs/vegetables. Clearly the issue is animal flesh and wine - just as it was among the Roman believers. These believers who abstained from animal flesh and wine were influenced by the “emissaries” from Jerusalem Apostles. Some of these “emissaries” were actually important leaders. They followed Paul and disputed his views - claiming that his Apostleship was illegitimate. They urged Paul’s followers to conform to the doctrines taught by the Twelve and James, the brother of Jesus, who was the head of the Twelve and the seventy Elders. Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts gives us the following information:
“Jewish Christian leaders followed in Paul’s footsteps, demanding that the gentile believers conform to their beliefs” [p. 542].
“They hotly opposed Paul’s law-free gospel by journeying to his churches and attempted to set his converts right” [The Illustrated Bible Handbook, p. 297].
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown also corroborates this fact:
“When, however, the original Jewish Christians at Jerusalem realized the nature of Paul’s teaching, they were shocked and vigorously repudiated it. They refused to recognize Paul as an apostle [he had never been an original disciple of Jesus], and they sent emissaries to Paul’s converts to present their own ‘gospel’ as the AUTHENTIC VERSION OF THE FAITH” [art. St. Paul, Pilot of Christianity, p. 2152].
“Paul, meanwhile, continued to face JUDAIZING OPPONENTS wherever his missionary endeavours took him, and for generations after his death, until the fourth or even the fifth century after the coming of Christ, the Judeo Christians strain survived as a heretical minorities in the increasingly gentile orientated church” [A History of Heresy, pp. 15-16].
That those who swayed the believers in Rome, Corinth, Colossae and other congregations which Paul established, were associated with James, the brother of Jesus, is evident from Galatians 2:4-5 where Paul clearly links the “Judaizers” with James the Just. Although they were James’ emissaries, Paul regarded them as false bothers. Some of these emissaries of James were in fact important leaders, but Paul rejected them nevertheless:
“Some of them were supposed to be important leaders, but I didn’t care who they were” [The Bible for Today].
Paul accused these IMPORTANT LEADERS whom he associated with JAMES, the brother of Jesus, of preaching “another Gospel” and “another Jesus.” He urges Galatians to reject the teachings of James and his “emissaries” and return to the Gospel he originally preached to them. Most Christians assume that Galatians simply accepted the admonition of Paul and rejected the teaching of James and his associates. The evidence however reveals that they did not and that Galatians refused to participate in the financial offering Paul organised as help for the Jerusalem Ebionites. We know that towards the end of his career Paul was arrested in Jerusalem. The Jews were going to kill him for his antinomian stance. As a Roman citizen he claimed his right to defend himself in the presence of Caesar - Nero at that time. The Jerusalem Apostles refused to send a delegation to defend Paul. During his first trial before Nero no delegation was sent either from Jerusalem or Rome.Please note:
“The first time I had to present my defense, no one stood by me; everyone deserted me” [2 Timothy 4:16].
We know for certain that there were believers in Rome at the time Paul faced Nero. Yet none of those believers tried to help Paul in anyway whatsoever. Not only the believers in Rome but virtually all in Asia deserted Paul and his Gospel.Please note:
“You know that everyone in the province of Asia turned away from me, including Phygelus and Ermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he was often a comfort to me...when he came to ROME, he diligently searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant to him to find mercy” [2 Timothy 1:15-18].
The phrase turned away has been translated from the Greek word apostrepho. From this word apostasy derives. It is number #654 in Strong’s, where it is defined in the following manner:
“to turn away.”
The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, on p. 68, defines the word as follows:
“to turn away from allegiance; to defect.”
The prefix apo signifies separation. Believers in Asia and Rome simply abandoned Paul and separated from him. They became a part of what is now called Jewish Christianity. The final rejection and separation occurred after Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem. The problem however began much earlier. 1 Corinthians 1:12 points out that Corinthians already formed separate parties. Some recognised Paul, others Apollos, while still others Peter. In 2 Corinthians we find a dispute between Paul and the “emissaries” of the Twelve. In chapter 11:22 Paul identifies his opponents as “Christians” who were “Hebrews” of the “seed of Abraham.” This immediately points out that his opponents were connected with James and other Apostles in Jerusalem. His opponents claimed to be followers of Jesus and were accepted as such [10:7]. They claimed the authority of the Jerusalem Apostles so that Paul styles the Jerusalem Apostles as “super apostles” [11:5; 12:11] but at the same time styles them “false Apostles” and “servants of Satan” 11:13-15]. There is no doubt that Paul was actually denouncing the original Apostles of Jesus. In 11:22-23 Paul clearly states that these “super Apostles” were Hebrews, Israelites and the seed of Abraham just as he says he was. Paul acknowledged them as “ministers of Christ” but claimed that he was in fact “greater” than they because of his “greater” persecutions. In 12:11 Paul states that in no way is he inferior to these “super Apostles.” Paul also plainly states that these “super Apostles” performed miracles but he also credits their miracles to Satan [11:13-15]. Paul did not deny that these “super Apostles” actually performed miracles but he claimed that their power was derived from Satan. Biblical scholars generally recognise that in these chapters we have a strong indication of the great schism between Paul and the Apostles of Jerusalem. In the Jerome Biblical Commentary in reference to this text we read the following:
“super apostles: This can refer to true apostles such as Peter and James...According to some commentators the reference is to the true apostles, because of vv. 22-23 and 12:11”.
Professor James Dunn writes:
“Here then is evidence of a deepening rift between Paul and Jerusalem church - with each disputing the other’ authority, and each attributing the other’s gospel to Satan...2 Cor. 10-13 remains a strong testimony to a depth of division between Paul and Jerusalem which helps considerably towards explaining later Jewish Christianity’s loathing for Paul the apostate” [Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, pp. 255-256].
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, art. Jesus, gives us this important information:
“The earliest surviving Christian writings are not the gospels but the Epistles of St. Paul. They were written about 20 years before the gospels, and provide evidence of Christian life and thought some 20 years after the crucifixion. When these epistles are carefully examined they reveal that already an amazing conflict of opinion existed about Jesus. In two separate letters, Paul denounces certain opponents who “PREACH ANOTHER JESUS” and “ANOTHER GOSPEL” [Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:4]. Since Paul cannot possibly mean that these opponents were preaching about another person named ‘Jesus’, his denunciation must signify an interpretation of Jesus DIFFERENT FROM HIS OWN...what was the other interpretation of Jesus against which he inveighed so strongly? The evidence points out unmistakably to the ORIGINAL APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES OF JESUS, LOCATED AT JERUSALEM, AS PAUL’S OPPONENTS AND THE PROPAGATORS OF THE “OTHER GOSPEL”...Critical analysis of the New Testament writings reveals, therefore, that within two decades of the crucifixion TWO DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS OF JESUS WERE CURRENT WITHIN THE CHURCH...As soon as the Jerusalem Christians realized the nature of Paul’s gospel, they repudiated both it and him. They sent emissaries among Paul’s converts, warning them that Paul was not an apostle and that his teaching was not the original form of the faith.”
A Catholic scholar T. Patrick Burke states:
“By AD 70 there were in effect TWO CHRISTIAN CHURCHES with TWO VERY DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHRISTIANITY: The Jewish church, centered in Jerusalem, which retained its ties to the Jewish community and Jewish traditions and customs, and which understood Jesus and his preaching more in terms of his Jewish background; and the Gentile church, existing outside Palestine, which had no attachment to things Jewish at all, but believed in Jesus as the Savior of mankind PREACHED BY PAUL” [The Major Religions, p. 298].
The emissaries of James were not the ones who preached “another Gospel” and “another Jesus” - meaning different. The Twelve preached Jesus whom they knew personally and with whom they ate and drank and they preached the Gospel that Jesus taught them. It was Paul who actually twisted the Truth and who deviated from Jesus the Twelve knew and from the Gospel that Jesus preached. That these emissaries sent by James, the brother of Jesus, and that James and other original Apostles as well as the seventy Elders who assisted James were actually vegetarian, is also evident from the canonical book of Acts. We have seen earlier that early historians and the Church Fathers unanimously testified that James the Just was in fact vegetarian and that he abstained from wine. We have also seen that the Ebionites possessed a book called The Ascents of James - where it was said that James spoke against the bloody sacrificial cultus of the Temple and against those who killed animals in order to eat their flesh. If James spoke against the Temple and bloody sacrifices and condemned those who ate flesh, naturally then he would not participate in the bloody sacrificial cultus.
But the book of Acts clearly shows that there were four Essene-Nazarean-Ebionite brothers who made [rather, renewed] their Nazarite vow, since they had to shave their head. According to the Jewish Pentateuch, the renewal of the vow and even the original making of the Nazarite vow demanded an ANIMAL SACRIFICE. But we have already seen that the true account of this rite demanded only the presentation and the eating of an OBLATION and the release of an animal - which symbolised the renunciation of flesh eating. The pouring of wine represented the renunciation of wine drinking. Acts 21:26 speaks of an OFFERING which was to be presented by the priest on the behalf of all of them. It is of great significance for you to realise that this word “offering” is translated from the Greek word “prosphora” which always implies “an oblation” and therefore “a bloodless sacrifice.” The word is number #4376 in Strong’s where it is thus defined:
“presentation, an oblation, a bloodless sacrifice.”
A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, by the great scholar, Ethelbert Bullinger, on p. 548, thus defines the word “prosphora:”
“an offering, oblation; STRICTLY WITHOUT BLOOD; opposite to “thusia” [sacrifice] and “holocautoma” [burnt offering].”
This text irrefutably proves that James and the Twelve repudiated the Jewish bloody sacrificial cultus - just as Jesus himself did when he interfered with the sacrifice in the Temple. The Ebionites were therefore correct when they claimed that James spoke against the Temple altar and the fire of the altar which consumed the animals as burnt offerings. It is also significant to note that Church Father Epiphanius testified that whenever an Ebionite was asked why he does not eat animal flesh he would reply that “Jesus revealed it to me.” It is therefore fair to say that the followers of Paul who became vegetarians and who also abstained from wine drinking learned the practice from those who came from James, the brother of Jesus.