The Emissarian School
Luke’s account in the “Acts of the Apostles“, as the title implies, is mainly concerned with what happened to Yeshua`’s Apostles (Emissaries) after Yeshua`’s death. Because the Emissaries concentrated their efforts in and around Judea, their activities became the foundation of what would evolve into a distinct body of teaching. I have called their group the Emissarian school.
There still seems to exist a lot of confusion over who actually led the Follower community. Christians say it was Simon Peter (“St Peter”), and Talmidi’s say it was Ya`aqov bar Qlofah (James son of Cleophas), the brother (cousin) of Yeshua`. Christianity is sensitive over any hint of divisions in early Christianity and the origins of their religion. The existence of a leader (Ya`aqov Nasi) who led a vibrant Jewish sect, and who was respected for his profound Jewishness and loyalty to the Torah, brings basic Christian assumptions about history into question, To Christians, the whole picture is much more comfortable if Peter is perceived to be the leader of the Follower community, not Ya`aqov.
It is this author’s contention that Peter was in fact the leader only of the Emissarian movement. He was increasingly influenced by Paul’s teachings, and what he taught became more and more Christian, and less and less Jewish. His teaching is known to scholars as Petrine Christianity, and he was exiled by the Jerusalem Council to Rome for teaching it.
In Acts 2:44, Luke writes that Followers in Judea were devout in following the teaching of the Emissaries. By common consent, they were regular in attendance at prayers in the Temple (Acts 1:14, Acts 2:46). Followers held everything in common (Acts 2:45). They would sell their goods and possessions and distribute the proceeds to all, according to individual need. They did not hold any of their possessions as their own, but held everything as common property (Acts 4:32). None were in want, as all those who owned lands or houses sold them, and brought the price they realised and laid it at the feet of the Emissaries (Acts 4:34). It seems that money poured in, as they managed to gain some influential women as converts (Acts 13:5, Acts 17:4).
It appears that they carried on a healing ministry, much like their master Yeshua`. The sick were often brought into the street for the Emissaries to minister to them (Acts 5:15).
Shim’on Keyfa (Simon Peter) and Yochanan bar Zebadyah (John son of Zebadee) would go up to the Temple to pray at the afternoon service at 3 o’clock (Acts 3:1), and Philip became the leader of the Emissarians in Samaria (Acts 8:5).
The main thing that can be said about the Emissarian school, is that they often came into conflict with the ruling Sadducean hierarchy in the Temple for their corrupt practices. However, unlike the Hellenicists, their wisdom and experience persuaded them to keep a low key on certain issues, and they managed to avoid the persecution that engulfed the Hellenicists. Their stronghold remained Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Jerusalem was the heart of Jewish learning, and they would have kept a stricter observance and adherence to Torah than their counterparts in the Galilee. They were much respected for it by other Jewish parties.
The chaos that hit Jerusalem and Judea after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, forced a re-alignment of loyalties. Together with other Followers, the survivors became the Ebionites.