Ca 110 CE
The Jewish Christian Apocrophon of James could have been produced around this time in Asia Minor. This was a time of crisis when an older generation was dying out. Ignatius, the third bishop of Jerusalem, was martyred in the Rome in 108 CE. Symeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem, who was over a century old was martyred in 107 CE. At the death of Bishop Symeon a man named Thebutis who was not elected Bishop created a schism and pulled a great number into a more conservative Jewish Christian or Ebionite fold.
Ap. Jas. begins with a greeting to “(…)thos” which most logically refers to Cerinthus who was a contemporary of the Apostle John and contended with him in Asia Minor. Like Simon he held there was a God above the Old Testament God but, however, who was not evil. Cerinthus held to the Jewish law, maintained Jesus was not divine but that a divine Son of Man-type being came at his baptism and left at his crucifixion. Irenaeus describes Cerinthus as “a man educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians” where the famous heresiarch, Basilides also held court contemporaneously. Both the Book of Revelations and Cerinthus believed in a thousand year idyllic reign of Christ on earth and it is with good reason that it is thought that Cerinthus wrote Revelations. This is what a presbyter in Rome named Caius alleges.
The death of Cerinthus in this era would have precipitated another crisis of legitimacy. This letter purports to come from James, the Just to Cerinthus which helps to legitimize the successors of Cerinthus in an Apostolic-succession sort of way in expressing what the disciples of Cerinthus believed Cerinthus received as part of the secret transmission from James to Cerinthus . The topic is an exhortation to martyrdom that fits this period. The end of the letter describes how disappointed the disciples of Jesus were in the revelation from Jesus to James in hearing that there will be future generations born which goes to the argument that a person is saved by those he saves so that just waiting around for Jesus to come again is not good enough. Both Cerinthus and this book are not looking for the resurrection of the body but have the aim of going to the Father. The Ap. of James is very circumspect and sly about not saying too much in trying to appeal to a broad stripe of Christians but it does refer to “archons” and references a mystery school ‘far-away Father’: “The Father has no need of me, --for a father does not need a son, but it is the son who needs the father.” And “The Father of the Son has no need of you.” An Egyptian, Greek, mystery school, Gospel of Thomas, philosophical approach is also signaled in “he who will receive life and believe in the kingdom will never leave it, not even if the Father wishes to banish him.”