V  10  Other early Christian groups

Many of the rebels referred to both Jesus and Judas the Galilean. These Christians accused the church

EpEphesus, floor mosaic
Ephesus, floor mosaic

under Peter’s successor of betraying the original ideals of a politically active Messiah: Mark 14:66ff par.

The Judas-Christians were not excluded from the church during the unification process until after the failure of the Jewish revolt in 70 AD.

Because the title of Messiah was a ruler’s title, the Herodian princes had first claim to the title. King Agrippa I made efforts to appear to be Jesus’ successor.

If the Jewish revolt of 66-70 AD had been successful, the Jewish victors would have had to offer Agrippa II the crown of the new state.

There are no indications of the Herod family being integrated into early Christianity, in contrast to Old Testament Judaism.


Unification of the Palestinian Jesus Groups: in the years after 70 AD the Jesus Groups separated from their original movements


and the confessional churches merged with the Gentile Christian church. The rebels were branded traitors (Judas’ betrayal in the Gospels, not yet mentioned by Paul) and were excluded from the united church. Judaism, the Baptist movement and the Gnostics went their separate ways.

The traditions of the Jesus Groups are reflected in the Gospels that were written at this time and later gathered in the New Testament. The religious authority shifted from the spiritually gifted Apostles to the local churches and the Christian tradition as it was handed down.

The end of the traditions handed down by individual churches: after 135 AD the writings of the individual churches were gathered together in the New Testament canon, each church being represented in proportion. The texts handed down by the Jesus Groups finally merged in the tradition of the whole church.

In place of the friction between the old Jesus Groups, new conflicts arose.


The interpretation of Jesus’ death as a betrayal: Judas. Josephus calls the Christians sons of Judas the Galilean,

Masada, tourists
Masada, tourists

because he brackets all Christians together as supporters of the insurrection. The opposite is true in the Christian sources: the relationship between Christians and Judas is not denied, but Jesus is the patron and the rebels are only pupils, and unworthy ones at that, since they gave Jesus’ enemies and excuse to kill him.

Nor do the Gospels hide the rebels’ opinion: in the scene of Peter’s denial (Mark 14:66ff par.) Peter is identified as a participant in Judas the Galilean’s rebellion due to his Galilean dialect: he is accused of betraying Jesus’ cause, which is identified with the rebels’ cause.

The crucifixions of James and Peter show that the Palestinian Jesus movements were by no means always non-violent and that they did not refuse all collaboration with the rebels. That only changed after the end of the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD.