James the Just had Dreadlocks

Sideshow BobJames the Just had “dreadlocks” according to Wikipedia:

Germanic tribes, the Vikings, the Greeks, the Pacific Ocean peoples, the Naga people and several ascetic groups within various major religions have at times worn their hair in dreadlocks. In addition to the Nazirites of Judaism and the Sadhus of Hinduism, there are the Dervishes of Islam and the Coptic Monks of Christianity, among others. The very earliest Christians also may have worn this hairstyle. Particularly noteworthy are descriptions of James the Just, “brother of Jesus” and first Bishop of Jerusalem, who wore them to his ankles.

I don’t know about this one. Hegesippus (via Eusebius) describes James:

He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. (Ecclesiastical History 2.23.5)

While I’m not sure exactly what hairstyle in which James wore his locks, the text certainly does not say that it was in dreads. Nor does it mention James’ hair reaching his ankles. On the other hand, if one interprets Hegesippus’ account as describing James the Just as a Nazirite, then I guess one could infer (based on Judges 16:13, 19) that James had “locks” (מחלפות) of hair, as did Samson – who is often held as the Nazirite par excellence. Of course, even if it could be proven that Samson’s locks were dreadlocks, it does not follow that all Nazirites had dreadlocks.

Interestingly enough, Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra contends that James’ ascetic lifestyle (as described by Hegesippus & Epiphanius) is more characteristic of the fasting of the high priest during the celebration of Yom Kippur. Interesting concept. I hope to explore this a bit further. See his monograph, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity (WUNT 163; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 246-250; see also his article, “‘Christians’ Observing ‘Jewish’ Festivals of Autumn,” pages 53-71 in Image of the Judaeo-Christians in Ancient Jewish and Christian Literature (Tübingen : Mohr Siebeck, 2003).

Hmm… I wonder what Sideshow Bob would have to say about this?

3 thoughts on “James the Just had Dreadlocks”

  1. I love the image! good find. On a different note, I knew your name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it so finally gave up — I do remember writing with you last year though! As per hosting my paper, that would be wonderful (I heard from several others that the link wasn’t working right, and since I don’t exactly know what I’m doing…? =} I just want to make a couple of changes, and then I’ll email it to you? thanks-

  2. That is worth inquiry; that James’ diet was only on the day of his death, and would reinforce the concept of an opposition or alternate high priest, explaining those often discounted references to him wearing the frontlet of a high priest. Has anyone a reference to a site where a Jewish solar calendar might calculate a 1st Century CE date for a Yom Kippur that would have coincided with the Temple Passover? I think we might be able to extablish a link between the old Catholic Feast of James the Righteous and thereby fix that nagging year problem
    (62 or 69 CE).

  3. Interesting but the comment that “he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath” might imply James was, James the Just plain stinky (-:

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