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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
General Editor: J. J. S. PEROWNE, D.D.,
Dean of Peterborough.
The General Epistle of
with notes and introduction
e. h. plumptre, d.d.,
dean of wells.
edited for the syndics of the university press .
at the university press
[ All Rights reserved .]
BY THE GENERAL EDITOR
The General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.
Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.
Chapter I. The Author of the Epistle
Chapter II. To whom was the Epistle addressed
Chapter III. The date of the Epistle
Chapter IV. Analysis of the Epistle
II. Text and Notes
the author of the epistle
I. The name of Jacôbus or Jacob which, after passing through various chances and changes of form, Spanish Iago and Portuguese Xayme (pronounced Hayme ) and Italian Giacomo and French Jacques and Jamè , and Scotch Hamish , has at last dwindled into our monosyllabic James was naturally, as having been borne by the great Patriarch whom Israel claimed as its progenitor, a favourite name among the later Jews 1 1 It is not without a feeling of regret, that I adopt in this volume the form in which the historical associations of the name have entirely disappeared. Usage, however, in such a matter, must be accepted as the jus et norma loquendi . . In the New Testament we find two, or possibly three, persons who bore it: (1) James the son of Zebedee. (2) James the son of Alphæus. Both of these appear in all the lists of the Twelve Apostles. (3) There is a James described as the son of a Mary and the brother of a Joses or Joseph (Matthew 27:56 , Mark 15:40 ), and a comparison of that passage with John 19:25 , defines this Mary as the wife of Clôpas (not Cleophas as in the English Version) and possibly also (though the construction is not free from ambiguity) as the sister of our Lord’s mother. To his name is attached the epithet, not of “the less” as in the English version, as though it indicated difference in age or position, but of the “little,” as an epithet descriptive in his case, as in that of Zacchæus (Luke 19:3 ), of his stature. (4) There is a James whose name appears, together with Joses and Simon and Judas, in the lists of the “brethren” of the Lord, in Matthew 13:55 , Mark 6:3 , and who is so described by St Paul in Galatians 1:19 . St Paul’s way of speaking of him there and in Galatians 2:9 , Galatians 2:12 , leaves not a shadow of doubt as to the identity of this James with the one who occupies so prominent a position in the Church at Jerusalem in Acts 12:17 , Acts 15:13 , Acts 21:18 .
The Epistle of St James may have been written, as far as the description which the writer gives of himself is concerned, by any one of these four, reserving the question whether the descriptions connected with (2), (3) and (4) give us any grounds for believing that the three accounts refer to two or even to one person only.
II. The hypothesis that the son of Zebedee, the brother of the beloved disciple, was the writer of the Epistle, has commonly been dismissed as hardly calling for serious consideration. It is not, however, without a certain amount of external authority, and has recently been maintained with considerable ability by the Rev. F. T. Bassett in a Commentary on the Epistle (Bagsters, 1876). It may be well therefore to begin with an inquiry into the grounds on which it rests.
(1) The oldest MSS. of the earlier, or Peshito, Syriac version, ranging from the 5th to the 8th century, state, in the superscription or subscription of the Epistle, or both, that it is an Epistle “of James the Apostle.” Printed editions of the Syriac Version state more definitely that the three Epistles (James, 1 Peter, and 1 John) which that version includes, were written by the three Apostles who were witnesses of the Transfiguration, but it is uncertain on what MS. authority the statement was made. As far then as this evidence goes, it is of little or no weight in determining the authorship. It does not go higher than the fifth century, and leaves it an open question whether “James the Apostle” was the son of Zebedee, or the son of Alphæus, or the brother of the Lord, considered as having been raised to the office and title of an Apostle.
(2) A Latin MS. of the New Testament, giving a version of the Epistle prior to that of Jerome, states more definitely that it was written by “James the son of Zebedee,” but the MS. is not assigned to an earlier date than the ninth century, and is therefore of little or no weight as an authority. Neither this nor the Syriac version can be looked on as giving more than the conjecture of the transcriber, or, at the best, a comparatively late and uncertain tradition.
(3) Admitting the weakness of the external evidence, Mr Bassett rests his case mainly on internal. It was, he thinks, à priori improbable that one who occupied so prominent a place among the Apostles during our Lord’s ministry, whose name as one of the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17 ) indicates conspicuous energy, should have passed away without leaving any written memorial for the permanent instruction of the Church. It is obvious, however, that all à priori arguments of this nature are, in the highest degree, precarious in their character, and that their only value lies in preparing the way for evidence of another kind.
(4) The internal coincidences on which Mr Bassett next lays stress are in themselves so suggestive and instructive, even if we do not admit his inference from them, that it seems worth while to state them briefly.
( a ) There is, he points out, a strong resemblance between the teaching of the Epistle and that of John the Baptist, as is seen, e. g., in comparing
James 1:22 , James 1:27 with Matthew 3:8 James 2:15 , James 2:16 with Luke 3:11 James 2:19 , James 2:20 with Matthew 3:9 James 5:1-6 with Matthew 3:10-12 . And he infers from this the probability that the writer had been one of those who, like Peter, John and Andrew, had listened to the preaching of the Baptist.
( b ) There are the frequently recurring parallelisms between the Epistle and the Sermon on the Mount, which strike the attention of well-nigh every reader.
James 1:2 compared with Matthew 5:10-12 James 1:4 compared with Matthew 5:48 James 1:5 , James 5:15 compared with Matthew 7:7-12 James 1:9 compared with Matthew 5:3 James 1:20 compared with Matthew 5:22 James 2:13 compared with Matthew 6:14 , Matthew 6:15 , Matthew 6:5 :7 James 2:14 compared with Matthew 7:21-23 James 3:17 , James 3:18 compared with Matthew 5:9 James 4:4 compared with Matthew 6:24 James 4:10 compared with Matthew 5:3 , Matthew 5:4 James 4:11 compared with Matthew 7:1-5 James 5:2 compared with Matthew 6:19 James 5:10 compared with Matthew 5:12 James 5:12 compared with Matthew 5:33-37 . It is urged that the son of Zebedee was certainly among our Lord’s disciples at the time the Sermon on the Mount was delivered, while there is no evidence that the son of Alphæus had as yet been called, and a distinct statement, assuming the brother of the Lord not to be identical with the son of Alphæus, that he at this time did not believe in Jesus as the Christ. (John 7:5 .)
( c ) The writer finds in St James’s description of Jesus as “the Lord of Glory” a reference, parallel to those of 2 Peter 1:16-18 and John 1:14 , to the vision on the Mount of Transfiguration which had been witnessed by Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.
( d ) In the emphasis with which the writer of the Epistle condemns the sins of vainglory and rivalry and self-seeking ambition Mr Bassett finds a reference to the disputes and jealousies which during our Lord’s ministry disturbed the harmony of the Apostolic company (comp. ch. 1:9 12, 3:14 16 with Matthew 18:1 , Mark 9:34 ); in his protests against the “wrath of man” (ch. 1:19, 20), a reminiscence of his own passionate desire to call down fire from heaven, as Elijah had done of old (Luke 9:54 ). With this and with Elijah’s loss of patience (1 Kings 19:4-10 ), he connects the statement that “Elias was a man of like passions with ourselves” (ch. 5:17).
( e ) Stress is laid on the language of the Epistle as to the “coming of the Lord” as agreeing with what our Lord had said on the Mount of Olives in the hearing of the sons of Zebedee and of Jona (Mark 13:3 ). Compare
James 2:6 , James 2:7 with Mark 13:9 James 4:1 with Mark 13:7 James 4:13 , James 4:14 with Mark 13:32 James 5:9 with Mark 13:29 James 5:7 with Matthew 24:27 . It is inferred that here also he was reproducing what he had himself heard.
( f ) The not unfrequent parallelisms between this Epistle and 1 Peter are next brought to bear on the question. They are given as follows:
James 1:2 with 1 Peter 1:6-9 James 1:10 with 1 Peter 1:24 James 1:21 with 1 Peter 2:1 James 4:6 , James 4:10 with 1 Peter 5:5 James 5:20 with 1 Peter 4:8 . It is urged that these coincidences of thought and phrase are just what might be expected in those who like the son of Zebedee and the son of Jona had been friends and companions in the work of disciples and Apostles.
(5) Interesting and suggestive as each of these lines of thought beyond question is, the evidence does not appear, on the whole, to warrant the conclusion which has been drawn from it. It would be a sufficient explanation of ( a ) and ( b ) that the writer of the Epistle had been one of the hearers of the Baptist and of our Lord, or had read or heard what we find recorded in St Matthew’s Gospel Of ( c ) it must be said that the epithet “of glory” was far too common (Acts 7:2 ; Ephesians 1:17 ; Colossians 1:27 ; Hebrews 1:3 , Hebrews 9:5 ) to prove what it is alleged to prove. The faults mentioned under ( d ) were too much the besetting sins of the whole people to sustain any conclusion based on the supposition that they applied specially to the writer. It is obvious that the teaching of our Lord as to His “Coming,” under ( e ), must, from a very early period, have become, at least to the extent to which the Epistle deals with it, the common property of all believers. Lastly, as to the parallelisms of ( f ) it must be remembered that there is as much evidence that another James was for many years in constant communication with St Peter, as there is for the earlier friendship of that Apostle with the son of Zebedee.
On the whole, then, it is believed that this hypothesis, interesting and ingenious as it is, must be dismissed as not proven.
III. The name of the second Apostle who bore the name of James comes next under consideration. Can we think of the son of Alphæus as the writer of the Epistle? Here a preliminary question meets us: Are we to think of the son of Alphæus as identical with the brother of the Lord, and with “James the little,” the son of Mary, the wife of Clôpas, and the sister of our Lord’s mother? The view that one and the self-same person is described in these different ways has been so widely held that it is necessary to examine the grounds on which it rests.
( a ) It has been supposed that Clôpas in John 19:25 is another form, somewhat nearer to the Hebrew ( Chalpi ), of the name which is represented in the first three Gospels by Alphæus. This is in itself probable enough, but it is a question whether the same person would have been likely to have been known by both forms of the name in the same company of the disciples. The natural tendency, where the same names abound in any district, is that the men who bear them become known by distinct forms, or by epithets attached. Primâ facie , therefore, we should expect to find the Alphæus, who is the father of Levi or Matthew and of James, and possibly of the Judas who is connected with James in the list of the Twelve, a different person from Clôpas. There is at any rate far more ground for assuming the identity of the father of Matthew with the father of James (the name being the same in each case) than for looking on the two as distinct persons, and the latter as the same as Clôpas.
( b ) The inference is, it is supposed, strengthened by the fact that Mary the wife of Clôpas is apparently identical with “Mary the mother of Joses” (Mark 15:47 ) and of James (Mark 16:1 , Luke 24:10 ), of James the little and of Joses (Mark 15:40 ), and that these two names appear in conjunction with Judas in the list of the brethren of the Lord (Mark 6:3 ). It is assumed that the words of John 19:25 refer the terms “his mother’s sister” and “Mary the wife of Clôpas” to the same person, and that the James and Joses who were her sons were identical with the two who bear those names in the list of the four “brethren” of the Lord in Matthew 13:55 , Mark 6:3 , and that they are called “brethren,” though really only cousins.
Against this conclusion however we have to set the facts: (1) that it is by no means certain that in St John’s enumeration of the women who stood by the Cross, “his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clôpas, and Mary Magdalene,” even when taken by itself, warrants the inference that “his mother’s sister” was identical with “the wife of Clôpas;” and (2) that a comparison with Matthew 27:56 , and Mark 15:40 , makes it far more probable that she was the same as Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (3) In Acts 1:13 , the “brethren” are named after the Eleven Apostles, and clearly as distinct from them; St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:5 , in like manner distinguishes them from the Apostles. It is primâ facie utterly improbable that the two writers should so have spoken had three, or even two, of the “brethren” been enrolled in the company of the Twelve. (4) Yet more important in its bearing on the question is the part taken by the “brethren of the Lord” throughout His ministry. They come, with the mother of Jesus, to check His preaching, and are contrasted by Him with His disciples as His true brethren (Matthew 12:46-50 ; Mark 3:31-35 ; Luke 8:19-21 ). The tone in which the men of Nazareth speak of them (Matthew 13:55 ; Mark 6:3 ) is hardly compatible with the thought that they had accepted Him as the Christ. As late as the last Feast of Tabernacles before the Crucifixion, St John definitely quotes words as spoken by them which imply doubt and distrust, and states that they did not then believe on Him (John 7:5 ). It is surely scarcely conceivable that those of whom such things are said could have been among the Twelve who were sent forth to proclaim their Lord as the Head of the Divine Kingdom. On these grounds, therefore, in spite of the authority of many great names which might be cited in its favour, we are, I believe, compelled to reject the hypothesis that James the son of Alphæus was identical with the brother of the Lord, and except on that hypothesis, there are absolutely no grounds whatever, external or internal, to connect the former with the authorship of this Epistle.
IV. It remains, therefore, that we should (1) consider the claims of the last-named James, known as the brother of the Lord, and (2) inquire into the nature of the relationship which that name was intended to express. When these two points are settled we can pass on, without further hindrance, to what we know of the life and character of the writer.
It must be admitted that the evidence in this case begins at a comparatively late date. Eusebius ( Hist. iii. 25, circ. a.d. 330) reckons “the Epistle known as James’s” among the writings which, though accepted by the majority, were yet open to question ( antilegomena ). It is clear from another passage that by this James, the reputed author of the Epistle, he means “the brother of the Lord,” to whom the Apostles had assigned the “throne” of the bishopric of Jerusalem ( Hist. ii. 23). The first of the Epistles known as Catholic was said to be his. He adds, however, in his truthful desire of accuracy, “It should be known that it is counted spurious by some. Not many of the ancients, at any rate, have made mention of it, as neither have they of that of Judas, which also is one of the seven Catholic Epistles. But nevertheless we know that these two have been publicly read and received in very many Churches.” Origen ( Comm. in Joann. xix. 6) had spoken of “the Epistle reputed to be by James,” and quotes from it as by him ( Hom. viii. in Exod. ), but does not specify to which James he assigns it. Jerome, whose long residence at Bethlehem makes him the representative of the Syrian as well as the Western tradition, takes up the language of Eusebius. “James who is called the brother of the Lord, known also as the Just, wrote one Epistle only, which is one of the seven Catholic Epistles. Yet that too is said to have been set forth by some one else in his name, though gradually, as time went on, it gained authority.” ( Catalog. Script. Eccles .)
The very early list of the books of the New Testament, in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, known, from the name of its first editor, as the Muratorian Fragment, and referred to a date about a.d. 190, though having no authority, except from its antiquity, is remarkable as confirming the statement of Eusebius that the Epistle of St James was not universally accepted. The list includes, besides books about which there was no doubt, the Epistle of Jude, and two Epistles of St John, the Apocalypse of Peter (a book conspicuously apocryphal), the Shepherd of Hermas, and even the Wisdom of Solomon , but it makes no mention of the Epistle of St James. After the time of Eusebius, however, in spite of the doubting tone in which he speaks, it won its way to general acceptance. It appears in the list of the Council of Laodicea, c. 59 (a.d. 363), of the third Council of Carthage, c. 39 (a.d. 397), of the so-called Apostolic Canons. It is acknowledged by Cyril of Jerusalem ( Catech . iv. 33, a.d. 349), by Epiphanius of Cyprus ( Adv. hær. lxxvi. 5, circ. a.d. 403), by Athanasius ( Epist. Test. 39, before a.d. 373), by Gregory of Nazianzus (a.d. 391), and no question was raised as to its authority till the 16th century, when the dogmatic bias of Luther and his school led them to revive the old doubts as to its inspiration and canonicity.
The conclusion from these facts would seem to be that the Epistle of St James came somewhat slowly into general circulation. It was natural that it should do so. Though addressed to the Twelve Tribes of the Dispersion, it does not follow that any very effectual measures were taken to secure its reaching them. And so far as copies did find their way to distant cities, they were addressed, we must remember, to the declining and decaying party of the Church of the Circumcision. They came from one whose name had been identified, rightly or wrongly, with that party in its attitude of antagonism to the teaching of St Paul and the freedom of the Gentile Churches. The writer’s personal influence had not extended beyond the Churches of Judea, and the Churches of the Gentiles did not feel the impression made on those who knew him by the saintliness of his life and character. The writer of the Muratorian Fragment represents this early stage of the history of the Epistle. He does not reject it. He has obviously not heard of it. When the letter becomes known to the students and scholars of the Church, to men like Origen, Eusebius and Jerome, they naturally at first speak of it with some hesitation. After a time inquiry leads to a more prompt and unquestioning acceptance. The more critical writers have no doubt that the James, whose name it bears, was the brother of the Lord, and not the son of Zebedee; and their judgment, as the result of inquiry and given in the teeth of the natural tendency to claim an Apostolic authority for any fragment of the Apostolic age, may well be looked on as outweighing the conjecture of a Syrian transcriber in the 9th century who yielded to that tendency, or the scarcely less conjectural inferences of recent writers.
V. So far, then, we have reached a fairly firm standing ground, and may take a fresh start on the assumption that the Epistle was written, not by the son of Zebedee, nor by the son of Alphæus, but by James the brother of the Lord. A question of great difficulty, however, once more meets us on the threshold. What kind of relationship did that description imply? Very different answers have been given to that question.
(1) We have the view that the “brethren of the Lord” were the sons of Joseph and of Mary, and therefore His younger brothers. This has in its favour, the common and natural, though not, it must be admitted, the necessary, meaning of the Greek word for “brethren,” perhaps, also, the primâ facie inference from Matthew 1:25 . It was adopted by Helvidius, a Latin writer of the 4th century, and has been revived by some recent scholars of high reputation, among whom are Dean Alford and Canon Farrar. It has against it the general consensus of the Fathers of the third and fourth century, resting on a wide-spread belief in the perpetual virginity of the mother of the Lord, and the fact that Helvidius was treated as propounding a new and monstrous theory. It may be admitted that the word does not necessarily mean that those who bore it were children of the same mother, and that Matthew 1:25 does not necessarily imply what, at first sight, it appears to mean. It is scarcely likely, however, with such words at hand as the Greek for “sister’s son” (Colossians 4:10 ) or “cousins” (Luke 1:36 ), that it would have been used to express either of those relationships. Slightly weighing against it, perhaps, are (1) the action and tone of the brethren in relation to our Lord (Matthew 12:46 ; John 7:3-5 ), which is that of elder rather than younger relatives, and (2) the fact that the mother of our Lord is commended to the care of John, the son of Zebedee and Salome (John 19:26 ), and not to those who, on this view, would have been her more natural protectors. It is probable, however, as stated above, that the wife of Zebedee may have been the sister of the Virgin, and if so, then there were close ties of relationship uniting St John to the latter. All that can be said is that the New Testament writers, if their language does not exclude the alternative theories, are, at least, not in any measure careful to exclude this.
(2) There is the theory that the “brethren” were the children of Joseph by a former marriage. It need scarcely be said that there is nothing in the New Testament to prove such a theory. Indirectly it falls in with what has just been said as to their tone towards our Lord, and the preference of a sister’s son (assuming Salome to have been the “mother’s sister” of John 19:25 ) to step-sons as a guardian and protector, would be sufficiently in harmony with the practices of common life. In the second, third, and fourth centuries this appears to have been the favourite view. It met the reverential feeling which, rightly or wrongly, shrank from the thought that the wedded life of the mother of Jesus was like that of other women. It gave to the word “brethren,” without any violence, an adequate or natural meaning. It was maintained by Epiphanius (a.d. 367), by Origen ( in Joann. ii. 12, in Matthew 13:55; Matthew 13:55 ), Eusebius ( Hist. ii. 1), Hilary of Poitiers (a.d. 368), Gregory of Nyssa (a.d. 394), Cyril of Alexandria ( in Gen. vii. p. 221), and with the modification that Joseph’s first marriage was with the widow of his brother Clôpas, by Theophylact (Comm. on Matthew 13:55 , Galatians 1:19 ). It has been revived in our own time by Canon Lightfoot ( Excursus on “The brethren of the Lord” in Commentary on Galatians ), and maintained as against the third hypothesis now to be mentioned, with arguments which seem to the present writer to admit of no satisfactory answer.
(3) Lastly, there is the theory already alluded to, that the “brethren” were the sons of the wife of Clôpas, who is identified with the sister of the Virgin, and that they were thus called “brethren” in the wider sense in which that word may be used of “cousins.” Clôpas is held (though this was an after-thought of writers later than Jerome, who was the first to propound this view) to be identical with Alphæus, and James the brother of the Lord is held to be identical with James the son of Alphæus, in the list of the Apostles, and “Jude of James ” to be another of the brethren, and Simon, a third brother, is identified with Simon Zelotes, or the Canaanite. The theory was first started by Jerome ( Catal. Vir. Illustr.; Adv. Helvid. ) 1 1 Dr Mill ( Mythical Interp. p. 291) quotes a passage from a MS. of the 14th century, ascribed to Papias, and maintaining Jerome’s view as proof of an almost apostolic antiquity for this theory. The occurrence of the mediæval “Star of the Sea,” as applied to the Virgin, is, however, in itself proof of a much later date than that of Papias of Hierapolis, and Dr Lightfoot shews that it comes from a work by a writer of the same name in the 11th century. in his eagerness to vindicate the perpetual virginity of Mary against what seemed to him the heresy of Helvidius, but though maintained vehemently at first, was afterwards treated by him as a matter of comparative indifference (Lightfoot’s Excursus, ut supra ). His influence, however, gave currency to the theory in the Western Church, and it was probably received by Ambrose (whose language, however, is consistent with the Epiphanian theory) in his treatise De Institutione Virginis , and by Augustine ( in Joann. xxviii., Enarr. in Ps. cxxvii., Contr. Faust. xxii. 35). The Western Church, accordingly, in her Calendar has recognised only two Saints of the name of James, and has naturally been followed in this respect by the Church of England, which gives July 25 to the son of Zebedee, and May 1st to St Philip and the son of Alphæus. The choice of the Epistle for that day implies his identification with the brother of the Lord. In the Greek Church, on the other hand, we trace, beyond the shadow of doubt, the survival of the Epiphanian view, or perhaps of the still older tradition on which it rested, Oct. 9th being dedicated to the son of Alphæus, and Oct. 23rd to the brother of the Lord. It is not probable, looking to the language of the Greek Church as to the Virgin, that this distinction between the two whom writers that follow the Roman view identify, rests on its acceptance of the Helvidian view.
On the whole, then, in a question confessedly of considerable difficulty, we may rest in the conclusions:
(1) That there is absolutely no ground for identifying James the brother of the Lord with the son of Alphæus, and therefore none for believing him to have been of the number of the Twelve Apostles.
(2) That there is absolutely no ground for believing the brethren of the Lord to have been the children of the Virgin’s sister, and therefore only cousins.
(3) That the first impression made by the language of the New Testament is in favour of their being brethren in the fullest sense of the word, but that this language is not incompatible with the view that they were the children of Joseph by a previous marriage.
VI. I have been reluctant up to this point to bring in the evidence of apocryphal or spurious writings. But it will be admitted, assuming the above conclusions as at least partly proved, that it is an enquiry not without interest to ask what relation the narratives of such writings bear to them.
In the Protevangelium Jacobi , an apocryphal narrative, dating probably from the second century, and therefore prior to any of the theories which originated in the fourth, Joseph appears as an old man with sons at the time of his espousals (c. 9), but with no daughter (c. 17). The sons are with him at Bethlehem at the time of the Nativity. James himself is represented as writing the book after the death of Herod the Great (c. 25). The Gospel of the Pseudo-Matthew agrees as to the age of Joseph (c. 8), and relates that James, “the first-born son of Joseph,” was bitten in the hand by a viper in his boyhood, and was healed by the touch and the breath of Jesus (c. 31). Joseph, Judas, and Simeon are named as the other brothers. Anna, the mother of the Virgin, after the death of her first husband, Joachim, marries Cleophas, and has by him a second daughter Mary, who in her turn is married to Alphæus, and becomes the mother of Philip and James, the Apostles. The History of Joseph (c. 3) gives the names of the four sons, and Assia and Lydia as the names of the daughters, and relates that Joseph became a widower when Mary was of the age of twelve, lived to the age of 111, James and Judas remaining in the household till his death (c. 14), and died with Jesus holding his hands, and receiving his last sigh (c. 19). The Gospel of Thomas repeats the story of the viper that bit James (c. 16). The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy makes James and Joses grown up while Jesus is yet an infant.
The Apocryphal Gospels thus referred to are so full of frivolous and fantastic fables, that no single fact narrated in them can claim, on that ground, the slightest degree of credibility; but the uniform consent of so many books written in various languages and countries, in adopting the Epiphanian view as distinct alike from that of Helvidius and that of Jerome, must be admitted as shewing what was in the second and third centuries the current tradition of the Church. It was not probable that writers aiming at attracting popular admiration would run counter to any prevalent tradition that “the brethren of the Lord” were really only His cousins.
VII. Leaving the region of legends, but keeping on the stratum of truth which underlies them, we may venture to picture to ourselves that household of Nazareth in at least the outline of its life. We can think of the elder brothers watching with loving admiration the growth of the Holy Child that “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man.” Their training had been after the pattern of that which prevailed in all devout Jewish houses. They had known the Holy Scriptures daily. They heard it read in the Synagogue on the Sabbath day. They read it in their home. But in that village of Nazareth, as throughout Galilee, Greek was probably both spoken and read familiarly, and thus they might become acquainted with the teaching of books which the Alexandrian Jews had added to the Hebrew Canon. Their father dies, and then they marry (1 Corinthians 9:5 ), and, it may well have been, leave their step-mother to be maintained by the younger Half-Brother who was her own son. So the years pass on till the preaching of the Baptist breaks through the orderly routine with the energy of a new force. The brothers go from Nazareth as others go from Capernaum, and James learns the lessons which he afterwards reproduces in his Epistle, and adopts the Nazarite rule, for the rigorous observance of which his life was afterwards conspicuous. And then follows that which to him, as to the other dwellers in Nazareth, was a marvel and a stumblingblock. The younger Brother proclaims in the Synagogue, probably on the great Day of Atonement, that the most glorious promises of the Prophets, which were read on that day as the appointed lesson, were fulfilled in Him. They have loved and honoured Him up to this time, but they are not prepared for this. They fear the probable effects of such a proclamation in raising the opposition of Pharisees and Scribes or the jealous suspicion of the Tetrarch Antipas. They hold back from joining the company of the disciples. The oft-repeated words of Jesus, that “a prophet is not without honour but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house” (Mark 6:4 ; Matthew 13:57 ; Luke 4:24 ; John 4:44 ), are spoken as with a plaintive reference to a definite personal experience. They, too, are tempted to take up the half-taunting words, “Physician, heal thyself,” and to demand that wonders as great as those of which they had heard at Capernaum should be wrought in their presence in their own city. They hear a few months afterwards that the Mission of the Kingdom is going on at Jerusalem and throughout Galilee, that Scribes and Pharisees have come down from Jerusalem to watch, and, if possible, to entrap the new Teacher (Luke 5:17 ), that they have coalesced with the Herodians against Him, and are plotting against His life (Mark 3:6 ). They and His mother are anxious to protect Him against that danger. And so they leave Nazareth, and appear on the outskirts of the crowd at Capernaum at the very moment when the antagonism was becoming more and more embittered, and the situation more full of danger (Matthew 12:46 ). They are anxious to utter their words of warning, to restrain Him, while there is yet time, from irrevocable words which may lead to a shameful death. They hear in return the declaration, so full of blessing for others, so full of warning and reproof for them, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:49 , Matthew 12:50 ). So far their efforts were frustrated; but the heart of the Brother yearns over the kindred and the neighbours who were so slow of heart to believe, and He appears once again in the Synagogue of Nazareth (Matthew 13:54-58 ). The brothers listen, admiring but still not believing, and the men of Nazareth appeal, as it were, to their self-esteem. What was He in outward birth or condition, that He should be more than they? “Is not this the carpenter’s son, Himself a carpenter? Is not His mother called Mary? Are not His brethren, James and Joses and Simon and Judas, with us?” (Matthew 13:55 ; Mark 6:3 ). Once again the old sad proverb was fulfilled, and He of whom these things were said could do but few works of power there because of their unbelief (Mark 6:5 ).
The months passed on apparently with little or no change of feeling. The Feast of Tabernacles came, the last that preceded the Passion, and the brethren were going up with other Galilæans to the Holy City. They turned to the Prophet in whom they did not as yet believe with the measure of belief which He required, in a tone of impatient expectation, Why remain in Galilee if He were indeed the King of Israel? “Depart hence, and go into Judæa, that thy disciples also” obviously the disciples in Jerusalem, of whom they had heard as listening to Him in his previous visits “may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly” (John 7:3-5 ). “If thou do these things,” if thou canst heal the sick and give sight to the blind and cast out devils, “shew thyself to the world,” to that world of which they thought as gathering in Jerusalem to keep the coming Feast. That challenge He did not accept, for it implied that they, and not He, were judges as to the time and manner of His Manifestation. Their time was “always ready,” but His was mapped out for Him by a Wisdom higher than theirs, and His time was not yet full come (John 7:8 ). They, we know, were present at the Feast, and they found the thoughts of the men of Judæa concerning Him fluctuating and uncertain. Some acknowledged Him as the Prophet, some as the Christ, some spoke of Him as a deceiver (John 7:40 , John 7:41 , John 7:47 ). Attempts were made to seize Him, and made in vain. The Feast ended as it began, in division, and the last words which they may have heard were. “He hath a devil and is mad” words which might almost seem to have been an echo of their own thoughts, when they, or those whom they had sent, said “He is beside Himself” (Mark 3:21 ).
The last Passover came, and the brethren, we must believe, were there, with the others who came from Galilee. Perhaps they too thought that the long-delayed manifestation for which they had craved was at last to be granted, and that “the kingdom of God was to immediately appear” (Luke 19:11 ). But it is significant that He eats the Passover, which was essentially the religious feast of the family , not with them, as would, under common conditions, have been natural, but with the Twelve, to whom He had pointed as being His true brethren. Then came what would seem to them the fulfilment of all their worst forebodings, the capture, the condemnation, and the death. It may be inferred from John 19:26 that it was the beloved disciple, the nephew, and not the step-son, of the Mother of the Lord, who accompanied her to the place of Crucifixion, but they too could hardly have been absent from that awful spectacle. And then came that which changed their doubt and hesitation into faith. The risen Lord was seen of Cephas and of the Twelve, and then of five hundred brethren at once, and after that, of James (1 Corinthians 15:5-7 ). When St Paul thus wrote, the one person of whom his readers would think as thus referred to, was neither the son of Zebedee, who was no longer among the living witnesses of the Resurrection, nor the son of Alphæus, who was to the Corinthians, as to us, hardly more than a name. He could refer, they would say, to none other than the brother of the Lord, whom they knew as the Bishop of Jerusalem, the head of the Church of the Circumcision. A legend or tradition in the Gospel according to the Hebrews , which takes its place among the more respectable of the New Testament Apocrypha, and was translated by Jerome himself into both Greek and Latin, connects this appearance with an incident sufficiently suggestive to be worth inserting here. James had sworn, we are told, that he would not eat bread from the hour in which he had drunk of the Lord’s cup until he should see Him rising from the dead. “And the Lord went and appeared to him, and said after a while, Bring hither a table and set bread on it; and He took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to James the Just, and said to him, My brother, eat thy bread now, for the Son of Man hath risen from among those that sleep.” (Jerome, Catal. Script. Eccles. ). The narrative presents, it is obvious, so many analogies with other manifestations recorded in the Gospels, that admitting the fact of the appearance to James, on the strength of St Paul’s statement, this may well be received as giving what was probably the manner.
Some such appearance, at any rate, offers the only reasonable explanation of the next fact in the life of St James recorded in the New Testament. The Resurrection and the Ascension are passed, and the “brethren” are with the Twelve in the Upper Chamber in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14 ). They take part in the election of Matthias, and are sharers in the marvellous gifts of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4 ). From that time they cast in their lot with the fortunes of the infant Church, and their earthly relationship to the Lord of that Church, the witness they were able to bear to the blameless Youth and Manhood at Nazareth, no less than to the fact of the Resurrection, must have given them a marked prominence in the company of the disciples. They accepted the admission of the Samaritans into the infant Church. On St Paul’s return to Jerusalem, three years after his conversion, he was received by Peter alone of the Apostles, and by James the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:18 , Galatians 1:19 ) 1 1 It has sometimes been inferred from St Paul’s way of speaking (“other of the Apostles saw I none save James the Lord’s brother”) that the one so named must have been among the Twelve, and therefore identical with the son of Alphæus. The examples of a like construction in Luke 4:26, 27 shew that no such inference is reliable. The woman of Sarepta was not one of the widows of Israel, nor was Naaman one of its lepers. . It seems probable that on the death of James the brother of John, his namesake, the brother of the Lord, succeeded, either by direct election, or by tacit acceptance, into the place thus left vacant. When the persecution under Agrippa made it necessary for Peter to leave Jerusalem, the language of the Apostle on his departure implies that James was left as the guide and teacher of the Church (Acts 12:17 ). It may fairly be assumed that he was among the elders who received the alms that had been collected by the Gentile converts at Antioch (Acts 11:30 ) for the disciples at Jerusalem. We may reasonably trace an allusion to that act of benevolence, and to the new name of Christians which had been applied to the disciples at Antioch (Acts 11:26 ), in the language of the Epistle (see Notes on ch. 2:7, 16). It was, probably, one of the consequences of the new position which he thus occupied, that in view of the expansion of the Church, he wrote his Encyclical Epistle to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion, addressing primarily those among them that had embraced the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ (ch. 1:1, 2:1, 5:7), but indirectly calling all the families of Israel to repentance, and faith, and holiness (see Introduction ch. 2). Then, after seventeen years had passed since the conversion of St Paul, we find him presiding at the Council of Jerusalem, recognised as, by age and position, the representative of the Church of the Circumcision (Acts 15:13 ). The devotion, purity, asceticism of his life, his faithfulness and loving observance of all rules which devout Pharisees practised, had won for him the respect of that party as a whole. It was not strange, perhaps, that those of its members who had accepted the faith of Christ should look upon him as their ideal Apostle, and present his life to the Gentile converts as the example which they were bound to follow. He, they seem to have said, would never sanction the baptism of uncircumcised proselytes as members of the Church of Christ, nor their exemption from the rules of the Law and the traditions of the Elders. He, on his part, however, disclaims that inference from his conduct. He had given no such commandment (Acts 15:24 ). He had learnt from the Prophet whose teaching he reproduces (comp. Amos 8:5 , Amos 8:10 with James 4:13 , James 4:5 :1, James 4:2 ; Amos 6:1-6 with James 5:5 ), in whom he found a Nazarite like himself (Amos 2:11 , Amos 2:12 ), to welcome the conversion of the “residue of men,” and to receive as brethren all “the Gentiles upon whom the name of the Lord is called” (Acts 15:17 ). He suggests as the right solution of the immediate problem, that the Gentile. Christians should be received on the footing which the more liberal Pharisees had accepted as that of the Proselytes of the Gate, bound to the precepts of Noah, but not to those of Moses (Acts 15:20 ). He gives to Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Galatians 2:9 ), accepts in full the Gospel which they had preached (Acts 15:25 , Acts 15:26 ), and publicly gives his sanction to the work they had done among the Gentiles. He recognises in so doing that the Law which he himself continued to observe with so much rigour, might be to others a yoke not easy and a burden not light (Matthew 11:29 , Matthew 11:30 ), and that the only law of liberty was the law of the true King, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Acts 15:10 , Acts 15:19 ; James 1:25 , James 2:8 ).
It is scarcely likely that, after this frank and full acceptance, attested not by St Luke only, but by St Paul himself, in the Epistle in which he is most eager to vindicate his entire independence of the Church at Jerusalem, St James would have taken up the position of antagonism which some recent writers assign to him in the history of the Apostolic Church, which they have constructed out of their inner consciousness, resting on the assumption that the wild romances of the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions contain a more trustworthy history than the Acts of the Apostles. And the most natural explanation of the fact that St Peter’s conduct at Antioch, in relation to the Gentiles, was altered for the worse when “certain came from James” (Galatians 2:12 ), is that then, as before, his name was used by those to whom he had given no such commandment, to enforce their interpretation of the Concordat which had been adopted, on his proposal, at the Council of Jerusalem. It is clear at any rate, that, while on the one hand, his own life was such as to win the admiration of those who were most zealous for the Law, he still continued, on the other, to hold out to St Paul the right hand of fellowship. He must have received him on the occasion of the visit of which we have only the brief fragmentary record of Acts 18:22 . He welcomes him, when he comes once again, accompanied by many Gentile converts, confirms the terms of the great Charter of Gentile freedom, and makes the characteristic suggestion that St Paul should shew that he himself “walked orderly and kept the Law,” by doing partially, but as fully as circumstances admitted, what he had done more thoroughly before, and presenting himself in the Temple as one who had upon him the vow of the Nazarite (Acts 21:18-25 ). Here, as far as the New Testament is concerned, we take our leave of him, and have to depend on the less certain guidance of later history. A brief narrative of his death is found in Josephus ( Ant. xx. 9 § 1), but it has been regarded by many writers as a Christian interpolation. It states that when Albinus succeeded Festus (Acts 24:27 ) as Procurator of Judæa, the younger Ananus, or Annas (son of the High Priest so named in Luke 3:2 ; John 18:13 ), was himself High Priest, bold and daring in character. He was of the sect of Sadducees (comp. Acts 4:4 , Acts 5:17 ) who were always conspicuous for harshness in all judicial proceedings (comp. Joseph. Ant. xiii. 10 § 6, Wars , ii. 8 § 14). And so, taking advantage of the interval between the death of Festus and the arrival of Albinus, he called together a Council of Judges (clearly the Sanhedrin), and “he brought before it the brother of Jesus that was called Christ, whose name was James, and certain others, and having charged them with transgressing the law, delivered them to be stoned. Some of the most equitable in the city, however, and those who were most accurate in their knowledge of the Law, were grieved at this. They sent secretly to the King (the Agrippa of Acts 25:13 ), begging him to restrain Ananus from such acts of violence. Some of them meet Albinus on his way from Alexandria, to tell him what Ananus had done, and how it was unlawful for him to convene the Council without his consent, and the result was that Albinus wrote him a threatening letter, and that Agrippa deposed him from the priesthood.”
The story of his death is told in a more dramatic form, and probably with some legendary admixture, by Hegesippus, the historian of the Jews, who wrote in the third quarter of the second century. The passage (quoted by Euseb. Hist. ii. 23) is so interesting, and in some respects so important, that it will be well to give it at length.
“James the brother of the Lord receives the Church from the Apostles, he who was called the Just from the Lord’s time even to our own; for many bore the name of James. This man was holy from his mother’s womb. He drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat any thing that lives. No razor came upon his head, nor did he anoint himself with oil, nor use the bath. He only was allowed to enter into the holy place, for he wore no woollen, but linen garments only. And he was wont to go alone into the sanctuary, and used to be found prostrate on his knees, and asking forgiveness for the people, so that his knees grew hard and worn, like a camel’s, because he was ever kneeling and worshipping God, and asking forgiveness for the people. And on account of his exceeding righteousness he was called the Righteous (or the Just), and Oblias, which means in Greek ‘the bulwark of the people’ and ‘righteousness,’ as the prophets shew of him. Some then of the seven sects of the people, of those whom I have described in my Memoirs, were wont to ask him, Who is the door of Jesus? And he was wont to say that this was the Saviour. And of these some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects of which I have spoken did not believe either in the Resurrection, or in Him who cometh to give to every man according to his works. As many then as believed did so on account of James. And when many of the rulers also believed, there was a stir of the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, saying that the whole people were in danger of looking for Jesus the Christ. They came together and said to James: ‘We entreat thee, restrain the people, for they have gone astray to Jesus as though He were indeed the Christ. We beseech thee to persuade all that come to the day of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all hearken to thee. For all of us bear thee witness, and all the people also, that thou art righteous, and art no respecter of persons. Do thou therefore persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus; for we and all the people hearken unto thee. Stand therefore on the pinnacle of the Temple, that thou mayest be conspicuous aloft, and that thy words may easily be heard by all the people, for by reason of the Passover all the tribes have come together, and with them the Gentiles.’ So the Scribes and Pharisees before-mentioned placed James on the pinnacle of the Temple, and they cried out to him, and said, ‘O thou Righteous one, to whom we are all bound to hearken, since the people are all gone astray after Jesus that was crucified, tell us what is the door of Jesus.’ And he answered with a loud voice: ‘Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He hath sat down in Heaven on the right hand of the Great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of Heaven.’ And when many were fully persuaded, and were glorifying God for the testimony of James, and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ then again the same Scribes and Pharisees said one to another, ‘We did ill in giving scope for such a testimony to Jesus, but let us go up and cast him down, that they may fear and not believe him.’ And they cried out, saying, ‘Ho, ho, even the Righteous is gone astray!’ And they fulfilled the scripture that is written in Isaiah, Let us make away with the Righteous, for he is displeasing to us; therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their works. And they went and cast the Righteous one down; and they said one to another, ‘Let us stone James the Righteous.’ And they began to stone him, for when he was cast down he did not die at once, but turned and fell on his knees, saying, ‘O Lord God our Father, forgive them, I beseech Thee, for they know not what they do.’ And while they were thus stoning him, one of the priests of the sons of Rechab the son of Rechabim, of whom the Prophet Jeremiah bears record, cried out and said, ‘Cease ye: what is it that ye are doing? The Righteous one is praying for you.’ And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club wherewith he was wont to beat his clothes, and smote the head of the Righteous one with it. And so he bore his witness. And they buried him at the place beside the Sanctuary, and his tombstone remaineth by the Sanctuary. He was, and is, a true witness both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ.”
There is but little, if anything, in this narrative, that is in itself improbable. The picture drawn of St James’s life agrees with the position occupied by him in Acts 20:23 as the centre of those who were all zealous of the Law, as giving prominence to the Nazarite vow as an act of devotion, as wishing above all things to stop the mouths of disputants and gainsayers. The long-continued prayer in the Temple is but the natural development of the teaching of the Epistle as to the power of effectual fervent prayer. The use of linen garments only was after the rule of the Essenes (Joseph. Wars , ii. 8 § 4). The abstinence from wine and animal food was what might be expected in one who had been a student of the prophet who gave such prominence to the Nazarite vow (Amos 2:11 , Amos 2:12 ; Acts 15:16 ), who had been also a follower of the Baptist, and so largely reproduced his teaching. The non-use of the bath need not be understood of any neglect of the multiplied ablutions which were practised by all Pharisees and devout Jews, above all, by the Essenes (Joseph. Wars , ii. 8 § 3), whose life approximated to the type presented by that of St James and of the Baptist. The “bath” in the language of the writers of that age was the Roman bath with its sudatorium, frigidarium , shampooing, and other appliances, which was naturally looked upon by those who were leading an ascetic life as an effeminate luxury. Even the more startling fact, that the brother of the Lord was allowed to enter into the Sanctuary, is not without a parallel (assuming the term to point not to the Holy of Holies, but to the Court of the Priests) in the privileges which were granted to other Nazarites, and which led a later Jewish writer (Maimonides, More Nevochim iii. 43) to place those who took that vow on them as a life-long obligation, on a level with the High Priest; and the mention of the priest of the sons of Rechab, who naturally sympathised with one whose life was like his own, is explained by the fact, sufficiently established by the Targum of Jonathan and other evidence (see Dictionary of the Bible , Art. “Rechabites”), that they were adopted, after the Captivity, into the tribe of Levi, perhaps into the family of Aaron, and became entitled to their privileges. The tradition reported by Epiphanius ( Hær . 78) that he, like St John at Ephesus ( Eus. v. 24), wore the πέταλον , or thin plate of gold, with the words “Holiness to the Lord,” which belonged to the High Priest (Exodus 28:36 ), represents, it is obvious, the same ideas, and in spite of its apparent strangeness, need not be rejected as in itself incredible 1 1 It may be noted, in connexion with this statement, that the portrait of Josephus, commonly found in the English editions, represents him with this petalon . I do not know from what picture the engraving was made, but the fact seems to indicate that the practice was not so strange as it appears to us. Josephus, it will be remembered, claimed descent from the sons of Aaron, and it is not unlikely that both St John and the brother of the Lord may have had a like claim (see Article “Priests” in the Dictionary of the Bible ). Jerome, whose personal knowledge goes for something in such a matter, says that Josephus was in such favour with Vespasian and Titus, that he had a public statue at Rome ( Catal. Script. Illust. ), so that there may have been some authority in the fourth century for such a representation. . The name Oblias 2 2 The probable Hebrew form of the word was Ophli-am (=stronghold of the people), the first half of the word being identical with Ophel , the tower on the south side of the Temple, which was the residence of the Levites (Neh. 11:21). , with the explanation which Hegesippus gives of it, represents the reverence felt by the population of Jerusalem for one who was to them the last surviving representative of the saintly life, and which shewed itself in their feeling that when he was murdered their defence was gone, and that the calamities that then followed in such quick succession were the just punishment of that deed of blood (Euseb. Hist. ii. 23). The question which seems to us at first scarcely intelligible, What is the door of Jesus? connects itself with the teaching of the Epistle that “the Judge standeth at the door ” (ch. 5:9). One who had those words often on his lips as a warning against the selfish luxury of the generation in which he lived, was likely enough to hear from Sadducean priests, themselves foremost in that luxury, the mocking question, “What is that door of which we hear so much?” They did not hear anything, though the Judge was standing at the door and knocked.
VI. Later traditions present features that are either dimmer or more distorted. The party that had misrepresented St James in his life continued their work after he was dead; and in the controversial romance known as the Homilies of the Pseudo-Clement of Rome Peter writes to the brother of the Lord, and maintains the perpetual obligation of the Law of Moses against the preaching of the man (obviously the forger of the letter means St Paul) who was “his enemy,” and James delivers the record of his teaching to men who are at once “devout and circumcised and faithful,” and binds them by a solemn oath, like that of the Freemasons or other secret societies, to absolute secresy and obedience ( Epistle of Peter, prefixed to the Clementine Homilies ). The Pseudo-Clement dedicates his work to “his lord James, the bishop of bishops, who rules Jerusalem, the Holy Church of the Hebrews” ( Epist. of Clement ). In a second romance known as the Recognitions , ascribed to the same writer, St James, the “Archbishop” of Jerusalem, sends Peter to Cæsarea to stop the work carried on by Simon the Sorcerer ( Recogn. 1. 72, 73), and stands for seven days on the steps of the Temple proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ, while Saul, here also represented as from first to last the “enemy” of Peter and of James, is making havock of the Church. In the Apostolic Constitutions , a work probably of the third or fourth century, he appears with the Twelve (here also distinguished from the son of Alphæus), (Book vi. 14), and gives rubrical directions for the lighting of lamps, and the Evening Prayer that was to accompany it (Book viii. 35 37), and for prayers for the departed (Book viii. 41). In accordance with the hints there given, the Eastern Churches, of which Antioch was the centre, claimed him as having laid down the order and pattern of their worship, and the Liturgy of James comes before us as one of the great representatives of what was in the third, and possibly in the second, century, the Eucharistic Service of the ancient Church, and James is commemorated in it as the prince of Bishops, Apostles, and Martyrs (Trollope’s Liturgy of St James , p. 130). The “brother of the Lord” has become the Ἀδελφόθεος , “the brother of the very God.” ( Ibid . p. 25.)
Wild and fantastic as are these imaginings, they are yet not without interest as shewing how powerfully the personality of James had impressed itself on the minds of his contemporaries and followers. Legends gather round the memory of a great man, not of a small one. And the character which is visible through all of them is that of one who continued all his life a Hebrew of the Hebrews, zealous for the Law, and devout in its observance, winning by his personal holiness the admiration and reverence of all who knew him. It is refreshing, however, to pass from the region of fables, and to tread on the safer ground safer, though here, too, we need the caution which should attend all exercise of the historical imagination of the inferences that may legitimately be drawn from what the New Testament writers tell us of the man, from what he tells us of himself. We have, then, present before us one whose personal work is limited to Jerusalem, who undertakes no far-distant journeys. Such a life tends naturally to the devout, contemplative, ascetic pattern of religion. It keeps itself “unspotted from the world.” Its practical activity is limited to “visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction.” The days pass by in a calm unbroken order, and the outer stirrings of the world scarcely ruffle it. And the life was spent in great part, at least, in company with the two Apostles, St Peter and St John. We can think of James as delighting in their converse, interchanging thoughts with them, learning from them, and in his turn teaching them, so that, as we have seen (p. 9), his words and phrases are often theirs, and theirs are his. And there also, for part of the time, must have been the Publican-Apostle, writing his Gospel for the Hebrews, yet writing it, there seems reason to believe, in Greek as well as Hebrew, for the twelve tribes that were scattered abroad, to whom St James addressed his Epistle. May we not think of the two as communing together as the work went on; the brother of the Lord imparting to the Evangelist the genealogy of the house of David, which was treasured among the records of his lineage, and the events, as he remembered or had heard them, of the Birth and Infancy of the Christ, and reading the Sermon on the Mount, in which he found the “royal law, the perfect law of freedom;” and of which accordingly we find so many echoes in the Epistle (p. 8)? From time to time there appears in Jerusalem one of wider thoughts and wider work, whom many of the Church at Jerusalem hated and suspected. James does not hate or suspect, and holds out the right hand of fellowship, but he feels that he has a vocation and ministry of his own, and his form of life and type of thought remain as they were, but little influenced by the teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles. And Luke comes with St Paul, and the wide culture and sympathies of the beloved physician enable him to understand, better than others, the character of the Bishop of Jerusalem, outwardly so different from, essentially so in harmony with, the character of his friend, and he resolves that, as far as in him lies, the false rumours of an antagonism between them which had gone abroad and gained acceptance, shall be shewn to be not facts, but the reverse of facts, engendered by the father of lies. And the life thus calm and tranquil is naturally given to study as well as prayer and good works. The Holy Scriptures are naturally the chief object of those studies, but his early knowledge as a Galilæan, and his frequent intercourse with the Hellenistic pilgrims of the Dispersion, who came up to keep their Pentecost or other feasts at Jerusalem, made him familiar with the Greek version of those Scriptures, and so with the books which the Alexandrian Jews had added to the Hebrew volume. His Epistle shews how much he valued the practical teaching of one of those books, how he found in the Son of Sirach one who, like himself, had sought for wisdom and had not sought in vain. The parallelisms with that book are, as the following table will shew, nearly as numerous as those with the Sermon on the Mount.
James 1:5 . Ecclus. 20:15, 41:22. James 1:8 . Ecclus. 1:28, 2:12. James 1:12 . Ecclus.1:11, 16, 18. James 1:12 . Ecclus. 15:11. James 1:19 . Ecclus.5:11, 20:7. James 1:23 . Ecclus.12:11. James 1:25 . Ecclus.14:23, 21:23. James 3:5 . Ecclus.28:10. James 3:6 . Ecclus.28:19(?). Yet another book, the work, probably, of a contemporary, written, as some have thought 1 1 See Two Papers on The Writings of Apollos in Vol. 1. of the Expositor . , by the Jew of Alexandria, eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, to whom many critics, from Luther onwards, have assigned the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, must have attracted him by its very title, the Wisdom of Solomon, and with this also we find not a few interesting and suggestive parallelisms.
James 1:2 . Wisd. 2:8. James 1:12 . Wisd. 5:7. James 1:17 . Wisd. 7:17 20. James 1:20 . Wisd. 12:10. James 1:23 . Wisd. 7:26. James 2:21 . Wisd. 10:5. James 4:14 . Wisd. 3:16, 5:9 14. We picture such a man to ourselves as grave and calm, for the most part silent, but when speaking, letting fall words that were as seeds that germinated and took root in the souls of others, indifferent to the luxuries and comforts of life, honouring the poor more than the rich, visiting the fatherless and the widow, accompanying the Elders of the Church when they anointed the sick with oil in the hope of their recovery, slow to judge, calming by his saintly meekness the angry passions of contending parties, adopting the policy of non-resistance in times of persecution. Not without cause did men speak of him as emphatically the “just, or righteous, one” as presenting a type of character after the pattern of His who was emphatically the Just One, Jesus Christ the Righteous (Matthew 27:19 ; Luke 23:47 ; Acts 3:14 , Acts 3:7 :52; 1 John 2:1 ). The frequent occurrence of that title either in its Greek or Latin form (as in the Justus of Acts 1:23 , Acts 1:18 :7; Colossians 4:11 ) seems to indicate that it was used somewhat freely of those who aimed at a higher righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
So far as we may think of such a one as James the Just as needing refreshment after the strain of worship and of work, some subtle touches in the Epistle lead us to think of that refreshment as found by him, as by all pure and simple souls, in the forms of life around him. To consider the lilies of the field, to dwell lovingly on what he calls the comeliness, not of the fashion, but of the face of each fair flower (see Note on 1:10), to find a quiet joy, as St John is said to have done in his old age (see note on ch. 3:7), in the power of man to tame the wildness, and even to win the affection, of bird or beast, this also we may think of as entering into the life of the brother of the Lord, and teaching him new lessons in the wisdom which he sought. Christendom has presented many types of saintliness, more intense and vehement, more mystic and spiritual, with wider thoughts, or at least a freer utterance, of the mysteries of God. It was well that the Apostolic age should present one type such as this, in which holiness appeared mainly as identical with Wisdom; that this should be as much the special characteristic of St James, as Faith was of St Paul, and Hope of St Peter, and Love of the beloved disciple. That type has happily not been without its representatives in later ages of the Church. In Macarius of Egypt, in Thomas à Kempis, in our own Bishop Wilson, we trace the same ideal of life, the aim at that wisdom which cometh from above, and is first pure and then peaceable, gentle, and carrying with it the persuasive power of gentleness. The life of St James was well characterised by Eusebius ( Hist . ii. 23), as marked by “the highest philosophy.” The Liturgy of the Greek Church as happily attaches the epithet “Wise” rather than Just, to the “brother of the Lord,” and commemorates “the marvellous and ineffable mysteries” which were made known to him by the “Wisdom of the incarnate Lord” who vouchsafed to be his Teacher.
to whom was the epistle addressed?
1. The letter which bears the name of James purports to be addressed to the “twelve tribes that are scattered abroad” (literally in the dispersion . See note on ch. 1:1). No other Epistle takes so wide a range. St Peter’s, which comes nearest to it, does not extend beyond the section of the “dispersion” that was to be found in the northern and central provinces of Asia Minor. This contemplates nothing less than all the families of Israel, and, as far as they are concerned, is, in the fullest sense of the word, a Catholic or Universal Epistle.
On the other hand, there seems, at times, to be an implied limitation. He writes to those who “hold the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ” (ch. 2:1), who have His worthy (or noble ) Name called upon them (ch. 2:7), who live in the expectation of His coming (ch. 5:7). Seen from one point of view, the Epistle seems a call to the outward Israel, such as the preaching of the Baptist had been, to be true to their calling, to live by the light they had, to conquer the besetting sins of their race. Seen from another, it is an earnest appeal to the Israelites who had accepted Jesus as the Christ, to be on their guard, lest those sins should reappear in the new society of the Church of God. From yet a third stand-point it seems to be addressed specially to the Churches of Judæa. It speaks of forms of persecution and oppression (ch. 2:6, 7, 5:4), which obviously refer directly to the acts of violence that followed on the death of Stephen (Acts 9:2 ), and were renewed under Herod Agrippa I. (Acts 12:1 , Acts 12:2 ).
2. We shall perhaps be better able to understand the features which the Epistle thus presents to us, if we endeavour to realise the position of the writer. The Church of Jerusalem was committed to his special charge. All the notices of his life, historical, traditional, legendary, represent him as confining himself to that special work, as never leaving the Holy City, as being a constant worshipper in the Temple. But every feast in every year brought to Jerusalem representatives of the “dispersion” from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5 ). Taking the list of those who were present on the day of Pentecost, we find among them those of Parthia and Media and Elam (Persia), who were descendants of the Ten Tribes that had been carried into exile by the river of Gozan and in the cities of the Medes by Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:6 ); the dwellers of Mesopotamia, who were of the children of the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24:14-16 , 2 Kings 25:11 ); those of Egypt, who traced their settlement in Alexandria to the invasion of Ptolemy-Lagus (Joseph. Ant . xii. 1); others, as in the case of the eunuch of Acts 8:27 , who, in the reign of Manasseh, had been carried off by Psammetichus (as in the history of the Septuagint that bears the name of Aristeas), and were known, even in the time of the prophet Zephaniah, as the people “of the daughter of my dispersed beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (Zephaniah 3:10 ). Lastly, there were those whom the war with Pompeius had scattered over every province of the Roman Empire and had planted in large numbers in Rome itself, those who had made their way from Alexandria to the parts of Libya about Cyrene, the more isolated settlements of Arabia and of Crete. With some of these, at least, St James would come into contact. In those who came from Egypt he might find thoughts in some measure in harmony with his own. The Therapeutæ (=“healers of the soul,” or, perhaps, “followers of the devout life”), who were leading a devout ascetic life on the shores of the Lake Mareotis in the Delta of the Nile, never tasting animal food nor wine, praising God in solemn chants and antiphonal hymns (Euseb. Hist. ii. 17); the disciples of Philo, dwelling much on the attainment of a true philosophy as the highest aim of man, and identifying the Divine Word or Logos with the Giver of all wisdom and knowledge; those who brought with them the sapiential books which were studied among the Alexandrian Jews, the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach, and the more recent work known as the Wisdom of Solomon, probably by a contemporary, possibly, as some have inferred from numerous coincidences of thought and language, by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews prior to his acceptance of the faith of Christ 1 1 See Note, p. 33. These he would welcome as manifesting in their various forms the search after the life of heavenly wisdom to which he himself was devoted. But in most of those who came he would note, with shame and sorrow, the same defects as those which he found among his own countrymen, the same greed of gain (ch. 4:1, 2), the same respect of persons (ch. 2:1 7), the same wrangling and bitterness in debate (ch. 3:1 12). They relied upon their faith in the dogma of Monotheism as a substitute for holiness of life (ch. 2:19). They abhorred idols, and yet robbed their temples (Romans 2:22 ). They pleased not God, and were contrary to all men (1 Thessalonians 2:15 ). The name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles through their lamentable and shameful inconsistencies (Romans 2:24 ). In view of these evils, we may believe, St James was led to write to the Twelve Tribes of the Dispersion, to call them at least to live up to the ideal of the faith of Israel. It lay in the nature of the case, however, that those with whom he came most into contact were those who held the faith which he held, that Jesus was the Christ, and that being so, He was none other than the Lord of Glory (ch. 2:1). Only in such as these could he find those who would be the bearers of his letter to the several centres of the Dispersion. Only among these could he feel any assurance that his letter would, in the first instance, gain a hearing. In these he saw those who were to be, in the Divine purpose, a purpose which they might forward or frustrate, the first-fruits of humanity (ch. 1:18). And therefore he writes, not as a prophet or moralist only, but as “the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ” (ch. 1:1). He is above all anxious that they, in their life as individuals and as a community, should not hold the faith in the Lord Jesus as a mere barren dogma, but should shew the fruits of their higher knowledge in “the meekness of wisdom,” in a nobler and purer life (ch. 3:13). Because he is writing to the Twelve Tribes at large, he does not dwell with any fulness on the higher mysteries of the Kingdom, but is content to call on them to live by the light they have, in the conviction that in so doing they would be led to know of the doctrine whether it were of God (John 7:17 ). Because he is writing to those who shared his faith and hope, he does not shrink from the confession of his belief in Jesus as the Christ, or from pressing on the minds of those who were to read his letter the solemn thought that He was the Judge, and that His coming was not far off (ch. 5:7). But one who lived as St James, in one spot, the horizon of whose view was consequently within comparatively narrow limits, was certain to be impressed mainly with what he himself heard and saw. He would dwell on the scenes which he witnessed, or knew of as practised in the Christian synagogues of Judæa (ch. 2:1 3), to the persecutions of which it had been the scene, and in which the wealthy aristocracy of the Sadducean priest-party always, as he himself experienced and as Josephus testifies ( Ant . xiii. 10. § 6; xx. 9. § 1; Wars , ii. 8. § 14), conspicuous for their judicial cruelties had taken the most prominent part (ch. 2:6). He would point to the indifference which the richer Jews shewed towards the sufferings of the poor of Jerusalem at the time of the famine, and contrast it with the liberality of the Gentile converts whom they despised as outside the pale of the covenant of Israel (ch. 2:15 18).
Such, it is believed, is the conclusion to which the phænomena of the Epistle lead. It will be seen that it takes in whatever element of truth is to be found in the less complete theories which look on it as addressed only to Jews as such or only to Jewish Christians, or only to the Churches of Judæa. We need not wonder, if we remember even the outlines of the history of the Apostolic Church, that it should be comparatively slow in finding its way into general acceptance, that though in one sense Catholic in its aim, and in due time recognised by that title, it did not occupy, in the history of the Canon of the New Testament, a position like that of the Gospels or the Epistles of St Paul. Read in the first instance in the Churches of the Circumcision only, bearing the name of the Teacher whom the party of the Judaisers, developed afterwards into the sect of the Ebionites, claimed as theirs, and whom they put forward, as in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions , as the antagonist of St Paul, it was inevitable that its course should be more or less retarded. We may, perhaps, trace some indirect reference to its teaching in the Epistle to the Romans (ch. 2:24; Romans 3:28 ), yet more clearly in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ch. 2:21, 25; Hebrews 11:17 , Hebrews 11:31 ), and in that of Clement to the Church of Corinth, as in his use of St James’s word for “double-minded” (c. 11), his quotation of the question, “Whence come wars and fightings among you?” (c. 46), and of the maxim that love “covers a multitude of sins” (c. 49), in his reference to the sacrifice of Isaac (c. 31), in his citation of the same words from Proverbs 3:34 , that are quoted by St James (c. 30), in the prominence which he gives to the history of Rahab (c. 12), in his naming Abraham the friend of God (c. 68). Irenæus (iv. 16) reproduces the passage about Abraham (ch. 2:21), and there are many parallelisms between its teaching and that of the Shepherd of Hermas . Comp.
Mand. xii. 5 with James 4:7 Mand. xii. 6 with James 4:12 . Mand. ix. 1 with James 1:8 . Vis. iii. 9 with James 5:4 . In the time of Origen it was known and read. The Peschito Syriac version included it, and recognized the writer as an Apostle. Eusebius, as we have seen, classed it among the books that some looked on as spurious, nor was it included in the Canon of the Muratorian fragment, though that list takes in, as has been said above, such books as the Wisdom of Solomon , and the Shepherd of Hermas . Finally, however, with the other Antilegomena , it won its way, as already stated, to a general acceptance, was received into the Canon by the Council of Laodicea, a.d. 320, and the third Council of Carthage, a.d. 397, and is not now likely to be displaced, except by those who, led by dogmatic prejudices, think lightly, as Luther once did 1 1 The famous “Epistle of straw” appeared in a German New Testament in a.d. 1522, and though not formally retracted, was never reproduced in any later edition. , of its merits, or by whom the whole idea of an authoritative Canon of inspired writings is more or less rejected.
the date of the epistle
1. I have assumed so far that the Epistle was written at a comparatively early date, probably prior to the earliest of St Paul’s Epistles, or even to the Council at Jerusalem of Acts 15:0 . It remains, however, to give a more distinct view of the facts that lead to that conclusion.
2. First, then, we note the absence of any reference to the controversy as to the necessity of circumcision, which that Council was summoned to decide. It is scarcely conceivable that one writing after such a controversy had arisen, would, in addressing himself to Jews and Jewish Christians throughout the world, have refrained from any reference to it. Writing before, it would be perfectly natural that he should assume that the position which had been assigned by the more liberal Rabbis to the Proselytes of the Gate would be conceded to those also who added faith in Jesus as the Christ to their acceptance of the creed of Israel, and had been baptized in His Name and had received the gift of the Spirit. The case of Cornelius (Acts 10:47 ) might well seem to have ruled the question once and for all in the sense in which St James afterwards ruled it. Here then we get probable limits for the date of the Epistle, in that conversion on the one hand, in the Council of Jerusalem on the other.
3. It may be noted that on this view the Epistle itself supplies a probable clue to the origin of the controversy, and explains the language in which St James and the Apostles and Elders repudiate the action of those who had originated it. “Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised and keep the Law; to whom we gave no such commandment ” (Acts 15:24 ). It lies on the surface that there was one passage in the Epistle, which, though written with no such purpose, might easily, interpreted as the Pharisees would interpret it, seem to give a countenance to the position which they maintained. St James had written, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (ch. 2:10). How easy it would be for the Judaisers to lay hold of such words, and ignoring the fact that he was speaking of the Law, new and yet eternal, the Law of the King, and yet the Law of freedom, to represent him as insisting on the observance of the whole Mosaic Code, as urging that the neglect of circumcision and new moons and sabbaths stood on the same footing as the violation of the great Laws of duty which were not of to-day or yesterday!
4. The reference to the persecutions to which the brethren were exposed in ch. 2:6, is, it will be noted, in the present tense. It indicates a stage of suffering which has not yet receded into the past of history. The two persecutions to which the Churches of Judæa were exposed prior to the Council of Jerusalem were, (1) that in which Saul, the Pharisee, made himself the tool of the Sadducean priesthood, and in which deeds of violence were done precisely corresponding to St James’s description (Acts 9:2 ), and (2) that in which Herod Agrippa, seeking probably to gain the support of that priesthood as well as of the people, took a leading part (Acts 12:1 , Acts 12:2 ). It is on the death of James the son of Zebedee in that persecution that the brother of the Lord, as we have seen, first comes into a new prominence, and it is not an improbable supposition that it was in face of the new responsibilities thus imposed upon him, that he wrote the Epistle that bears his name.
5. Another coincidence will help us, it is believed, to approximate yet more closely to the date as to which we are enquiring. If we believe, as is shewn in the notes on ch. 2:15 18 to be probable, that the words which speak of the contrast between the works of one who feeds the hungry and clothes the naked, and the dead faith of one who rests in an orthodox belief, refer, more or less directly, to the generous help that had been given by the disciples at Antioch to the suffering poor at Jerusalem, we find fresh grounds for the conclusion already arrived at; and accepting the dates commonly received for the chronology of the Acts, we have the years between a.d. 44, the date of the help so given, and a.d. 51, the year of the Council, as the limits within which we may place the composition of the Epistle. In all probability, i.e. it was written while Paul and Barnabas were absent from Antioch on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:0 ), and it was when they returned from their labours that they found their work thwarted and threatened by the false interpretation which had been put upon its teaching. The probable reference to the name of Christian in ch. 2:7 is, it is obvious, in agreement with this conclusion. It may be mentioned that the view here taken agrees in the main with that maintained by Alford ( Commentary ), by Neander ( Pflanzung und Leitung , ii. p. 576), and most recent Commentators, and is accepted, as far as the date of the Epistle is concerned, by Mr Bassett ( Introduction to Commentary ). Bishop Wordsworth ( Introduction to St James ), following Lardner and De Wette and the school of Commentators who see in St James’s teaching that which was intended to correct inferences drawn from St Paul’s, places it naturally after the Epistles to the Galatians and Romans, circ. a.d. 61. It may be questioned, however, in addition to the positive arguments for the earlier date and against the presence of any such purpose in St James’s thoughts, whether copies of those Epistles were likely to have found their way to Jerusalem during St James’s life-time. Apostolical epistles were not likely to be transcribed by the hundred and circulated broadcast in that early age, and the burden of proof lies on those who assume that copies of what was written for Rome or Galatia would be at once despatched by a special courier to the Bishop of Jerusalem. The date of A.D. 61 or 62, shortly before the martyrdom of James in the latter year, must therefore be rejected, as supported by no adequate proof, and as being against the balance of the circumstantial evidence which has been here adduced.
6. As to the place of composition, there is not even the shadow of a doubt. Even if there were not, as has been said above, an unbroken consent of all historical, traditional, and legendary notices as to the continued residence of the Bishop of Jerusalem in the city which was, in modern language, his see, the local colouring of the Epistle would indicate with sufficient clearness where the writer lived. He speaks, as the prophets of Israel had done, of the early and the latter rain (ch. 5:7); the hot blast of the Kausôn or Simoom of the desert (ch. 1:11), the brackish springs of the hills of Judah and Benjamin (ch. 3:11), the figs, the olives, and the vines with which those hills were clothed (ch. 3:12), all these form part of the surroundings of the writer. Storms and tempests, such as might have been seen on the sea of Galilee or in visits to Cæsarea or Joppa, and the power of man to guide the great ships safely through them, have at some time or other been familiar to him (ch. 3:4).
analysis of the epistle
The structure of the Epistle is, as every reader will feel, altogether informal and unsystematic, and an analysis can hardly aim at more than tracking the succession of topics and indicating, where possible, the latent sequence of thought.
Chap. 1. Writing to those of whom he thinks as exposed to trials and temptations, he opens with words of comfort as to the work they are meant to do (1 4). That they may accomplish that work men want the wisdom which learns the lessons of experience, and wisdom is given to those who ask for it in faith (5 7). In want of faith there is instability, and the secret reason why faith is in most men so weak is that they prefer the false riches to the true. Conquer that temptation, and trials lead straight on to the crown of life (8 12).
Nor must men think that they can plead destiny and God’s Will as an excuse for yielding to temptation. That Will is absolutely righteous. Evil is found not in circumstances but in man’s lust and appetite (13 17). From God comes all good and nothing but good, above all, the highest good of the Word of truth which regenerates our life (18 21). Well for us, if we receive that Word and do it; woe for us, if we only think we have received it, and substitute a ritual observance for works of pitying love (22 27).
Chap. 2. How hollow such a ritual religion may be is seen even in the synagogues of believing Jews. They profess faith in Him who was poor Himself and the Friend of the poor, and in the very place where they meet to worship Him they insult the poor and act with base servility towards the rich. Small as men may think this fault, it is a wilful transgression of the law of Christ by which we are to be judged (1 13). It will profit such breakers of the Law little to say that they have maintained the faith of Israel in the Unity of the Godhead in the midst of the worshippers of Gods many and Lords many. Faith without works is dead, and the ultimate acquittal and acceptance of a man will depend not so much on what he has believed as on the manner in which belief has influenced practice (14 26).
Chap. 3. Nor was this the only evil of which the Christian synagogue was the scene. Men were struggling for preeminence as teachers, each with his doctrine and interpretation. Thence came wrangling and debate, and the tongue shot forth the fiery arrows of bitter words (1 8). To suppose that a man could be wise or religious while he was uttering curses and anathemas was as monstrous as any natural portent, salt and sweet water gushing from the same spring, figs borne by olive-trees, and the like (9 12). Far other than that was the true wisdom that comes from above. Let men look first on this picture and then on that, and so make their choice (13 18).
Chap. 4. In strong contrast with the life regulated by such a wisdom is the unwisdom of those who think only of gratifying the promptings of their lower nature. From those promptings comes nothing but discords and confusion. Men must choose once more between the friendship of the world and that of God, between the lower and the higher life (1 8). Repentance, humility, the temper that refrains from judging, are the indispensable conditions of all true blessedness (9 12). The eagerness that throws its selfish aims and plans into the future, near or far, must be repressed by dwelling on the shortness and uncertainty of life (13 17).
Chap. 5. As if conscious that he had nearly reached the limit of his Epistle, the writer takes up the more solemn tone of the older prophets in his warnings to the rich. They little know the miseries which he foresees as close at hand, the swift judgment that is coming upon the oppressors and persecutors (1 7). What is a thought of terror for them is, however, one of encouragement and comfort for the patient sufferers. The “end of the Lord” for such, will be as full of blessing as that of Job and the prophets who had endured patiently in the days of old (7 11). A few more rules of life are needed for men’s daily conduct. To abstain from rash and random oaths; to find in prayer and psalmody the true utterance of sorrow or of joy (12, 13); to trust to simple remedies and the prayer of faith in times of sickness (14, 15); to confess faults, one to another, in the belief that the prayer for forgiveness and other spiritual blessings is as mighty now as was Elijah’s prayer for drought or rain (17, 18); to think not only or chiefly of saving ourselves, but to aim by prayer and counsel and act, at saving others (19, 20) this is the true pattern of the life of Christ’s disciples. Having said this, the writer has nothing more to say, and the Epistle ends.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29