then we must admit that we actually have no first-hand document from that early Jerusalem church of the first generation.10 But the very fact of Paul's vigorous collection endeavour 'for the saints in Jerusalem' (1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 8 and 9; Rom 15:25-9; cf. Gal 2:9) in the 50s seems indisputable evidence that the Christian community in Jerusalem was viewed, and probably saw itself, as in some sense the matrix of the increasingly worldwide movement.11 But this was not to last.
While we know very little of the internal development and pressures within those churches, two major socio-political events without a doubt shaped their destiny: the seige and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 66-70 CE, and the crackdown against Jewish insurgency by Hadrian some sixty years later. Eusebius reports12 that the Jerusalem Christians, warned by an oracle via a revelation (apokalypsis), fled from Jerusalem before its inhabitants were locked inside for the gruelling final seige so graphically depicted by Josephus in his Bellum Judaicum.13 Eusebius says they were commanded to inhabit (oikein) Pella, a city in Perea (Transjordan, in the Roman province of Syria, and in the region of the 'Decapolis'). For him this migration (metoikizesthai) supports a theological argument that the destruction of Jerusalem was due to divine punishment on the Jews for having killed Jesus decades earlier.14 He draws upon Josephus' account of the horrific sufferings in those months to accent his argument that divine vengeance was pinpointed on Jews while Christians were providentially spared.15 Indeed, Eusebius goes so far as to say that the residency of Christians in Jerusalem earlier was what gave the city forty years of reprieve in the period between the death of Jesus and Titus' sack and seizure (HE 3.7.8), and he employs Josephus' own (variously directed) apologetic account to emphasise the many divine portents the Jews in Jerusalem had of the letter, knowledge of Pauline tradition, and improbable provenance (for the pseud-epigraphical nature of the text, see especially Dibelius, James).
10 The same goes for the two epistles of Peter, both pseudepigrapha, the first of which is, like James, addressed to 'resident aliens in the diaspora' (1:1). See pt ii, ch. 4 for detailed description of the sources of'Jewish Christianity'.
12 Also references in Epiph. Pan. 29.7.7-8; 30.2.7, and Mens. 15. Koester, 'Origin and significance of the flight to Pella tradition', argues that Epiphanius was independent of Eusebius. There is also debate about whether this tradition lies behind Mark 13:14 and parallels, or was derived from it (see references in Davies and Allison, Matthew, vol. iii, 347).
14 Attridge and Hata, Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism; Grant, Eusebius as church historian.
15 On how Josephus becomes a crucial source (ironically towards a supercessionist, anti-Judaistic theological agenda) for patristic sources, see Schreckenberg, 'Josephus in early Christian literature'; Hardwick, Josephus as an historical source.
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