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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

- James

by Editor - Joseph Exell


James 1:1, "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ."

The following is a list of all those of this name mentioned in the New Testament: —

1. James the brother of John, the son of Zebedee and Salome: put to death by Herod, A.D. 44 (Acts 12:2).

2. James the brother of the Lord.

3. James the son of Mary.

4. James the son of Alphaeus.

5. James the father of Jude (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13. The ellipse in the expression, ̓Ιούδαν ̓Ιακώβου, is rightly supplied in the Revised Version, "Judas the son of James," not as A.V. "brother").

6. James (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:12).

7. James the brother of Jude (Jude 1:0).

8. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1:1).

Of these eight,

(1) Numbers 2:0 and 6 are certainly the same (cf. Galatians 1:19 with 2:9, 12).
(2) 3 and 4, and perhaps 5, may also be identified; as may be
(3) 7 and 8. Next, there can be little doubt that
(4) 7 and 8 may be further identified with 2 and 6.

It is true that the oldest manuscripts simply ascribe the Epistle to "James." א, A, C, have no superscription. B has ̓Ιακώβου ἐπιστόλη. In the subscription, B has simply ̓Ιακώβου: א, ἐπιστοìλη ̓Ιακαìβου: A, ̓Ιακώβου ἐπιστόλη. But no other James was of sufficient importance in the early Church, after the death of the son Zebedee, for there to be any hesitation about this identification. The view that the Epistle was the work of the son of Zebedee scarcely requires serious consideration. It rests on the subscription in the Codex Corbeiensis a Latin manuscript of the ninth century: "Explicit Epistola Jacobi filii Zebedei." It has lately been advanced, with arguments which are ingenious rather than solid, by Mr. Bassett. A refutation of this theory (if such be needed) may be found in Dean Plumptre's volume in the Cambridge Bible for schools, 'Epistle of St. James,' pp. 6-10.

We have now reduced the list to three —

1. James the son of Zebedee.
2. James the son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve.
3. James the brother of the Lord, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and writer of the Epistle, one of the most prominent figures in the early Church.

Shall we proceed a step further, and identify 2 and 3? This brings us to a very difficult question, and one with regard to which much may be urged on either side. On behalf of the identification, reference may be made to Dr. Mill's volume on the 'Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels,' p. 219, seq.

Against it, it will be sufficient to direct the reader's attention to Bishop Lightfoot's dissertation on "The Brethren of the Lord" in his 'Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians,' p. 247, seq. The identification rests mainly on John 19:25 as compared with Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40; and requires us

(1) to take "Mary the wife of Clopas" as "his mother's sister;"
(2) to identify Clopas with Alphaeus; and
(3) to give ἀδελφοÌς a wide meaning, so as to include first cousin.

None of these things is impossible; indeed, they can scarcely be said to be improbable; and in favor of the identification it may be urged

(1) that if the two Jameses are distinct, then one of them, James the son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve, disappears altogether from the New Testament after Acts 1:13, his place being silently taken by another "James," whose relationship is not specified in the Acts, and who at once fakes a prominent position in the Church. This is an important consideration, and has scarcely had sufficient weight attached to it. Elsewhere St. Luke is very careful in specifying and distinguishing characters; e.g. the two Philips are distinguished; the other James is "the brother of John," etc. It is, therefore, most improbable that, after having mentioned "James the son of Alphaeus" in Acts 1:13, he should introduce an entirely new character in Acts 12:17 without any clue to his identity. Again,

(2) if the two are distinct, we have certainly two, and in all probability three, pairs of cousins bearing the same names: James, Joseph, and Simon, the Lord's brethren; and James, Joses, and Symeon (see Eusebius, 4:22), the sons of Clopas (equivalent to Alphaeus). The names, however, being all common ones, not much stress can be laid upon this argument.

On the other hand, in favor of the distinction of the two Jameses, it may be urged —

(1) That it enables us to give the term "brother" its natural meaning.

(2) That if the two are identified, James the Lord's brother must have been one of the twelve; whereas we are expressly told in John 7:6 that his brethren did not believe on him. This, however, is not conclusive, for St. John only speaks in general terms, and one of the brethren may have been an exception. (It must be remembered that there is no sufficient reason for supposing Simon Zelotes to have been a brother of James, and that Judas the apostle was the son not brother of James. Hence the random assertion, so often made, that on this view two or even three of the "brethren" were apostles, falls to the ground.) The statement of St. Paul in Galatians 1:19 is too doubtful in meaning for any stress to be laid on it in either way. The prima facie view is that he does include the Lord's brother among the apostles. But no reliance can be placed on this, as it may fairly be asserted that ἀποìστολος is applied to others besides the twelve; or it is even possible to render εἰ μηÌ "but only," in which case St. James will be excluded from the number of the apostles.

(3) A third argument may be given in Bishop Lightfoot's words: "The Lord's brethren are mentioned in the Gospels in connection with Joseph his reputed father, and Mary his mother, never once with Mary of Clopas (the assumed wife of Alphaeus). It would surely have been otherwise if the latter Mary were really their mother".

(4) The identification is apparently due to St. Jerome in the fourth century, never being heard of before his day.

These last considerations are weighty, and will show us that there are difficulties in either view. If the identification be given up, there still remains two competing theories, known as the Helvidian and the Epiphanian.

(a) The Helvidian, which supposes that the "brethren" were own brothers of our Lord, the sons of Joseph and Mary.

But (α) the passages quoted in favor of this view utterly fail to establish the point for which they are adduced.

(β) If Mary had other children of her own, why did our Lord, on the cross, commit her to the care of the beloved disciple, who took her to his own home from that hour?

(γ) The "brethren" appear to have been older than our Lord, from the part which they took in endeavoring to restrain him, in advising him, etc.

(δ) The early Church must have had knowledge on such a point as this.

(b) The Epiphanian theory, which supposes that the brethren were sons of Joseph by a former wife, has a considerable amount of support from early writers, and has lately been revived and supported with consummate ability by Bishop Lightfoot. It has the advantages mentioned above, and is not open to the same formidable objections as the Helvidian. But at the same time, the points urged in favor of the Hieronymian theory are weighty objections to it. The real choice, however, must lie between these two — the Hieronymian and the Epiphanian. The arguments are so evenly balanced, and the objections to both so considerable, that it is difficult to decide positively in favor of either; and the writer of these lines is inclined to think that the question is one of which, in our present state of knowledge, a solution is impossible. He will, therefore, leave it undecided whether the author of our Epistle was the first cousin of the Lord, or his reputed half-brother, a son of Joseph by a former wife.


His position throughout the Acts of the Apostles appears as that of Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem, the only example of diocesan episcopacy before the closing years of the apostolic age. The earliest reference to him in this capacity is found in Acts 12:17, just about the time when persecution first fell on the members of the apostolic college. Subsequent notices of him are in Acts 15:0. and 21. At the Council of Jerusalem he acts as president, sums up the debate, and gives sentence (ἐγωÌ κριìνω, Acts 15:19); and it has been thought, from certain slight coincidences with his Epistle, that the letter to the Syrian Churches was drawn up by him. Later on, St. Paul, on the occasion of his last visit to Jerusalem, "went in unto James, and all the elders were present" (Acts 21:18).

As might be expected from the bishop of the Church of the circumcision, the glimpses we get of him show us one who is zealous for the Law.

1. While St. Peter "proposes the emancipation of the Gentile converts from the Law, it is James who suggests the restrictive clauses of the decree."

2. Very characteristic is the allusion made by him to the fact that "Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day" (Acts 15:21).

3. Equally characteristic is the tenderness shown by him for the feelings of the "many thousands of the Jews which believe, who are all zealous of the Law" (Acts 21:20), and the suggestion with regard to the vow (ver. 23).

4. In accordance with all this, it is not unnatural that the Judaizers in Galatians 2:12 are spoken of as having come "from James." "It is not improbable," says Bishop Lightfoot, "that they came invested with some powers from James which they abused."

This is all that can be gathered from Holy Scripture with regard to the person and position of St. James. To fill in the outline of the picture thus sketched, we must have recourse to tradition and early historical notices, some of which are interesting and suggestive.

(1) The fact that one of the early appearances of the risen Savior was to "James "is stated by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:7; but there is no further mention of it in the New Testament. We learn, however, from Jerome, 'Catalogus Scr. Eccl.' (s.v. "Jacobus"), that the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews' contained an account of this appearance. The passage from this apocryphal Gospel is given by Mr. Nicholson, in his edition of the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews', as follows —

"And when the Lord had given his linen cloth to the servant of the priest, he went to James, and appeared unto him.
"For James had sworn, that he would not eat bread from that hour wherein he had drunk the cup of the Lord, until he saw him rising again from the dead.
"... bring a table and bread.
"... [and?] he took up the bread, and blessed, and brake, and afterwards gave to James the Just, and said to him, My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of man is risen from them that sleep."
Without giving credence to the details thus brought before us, it is at least interesting to notice how the Jewish character of St. James comes out in the vow attributed to him. Compare the oath of more than forty men, "neither to eat nor drink till they have killed Paul" (Acts 23:12).

(2) Eusebius (Bk. II. 23.) has preserved the following remarkable account from Hegesippus, a writer of the second century, "who flourished nearest the days of the apostles:" — "James, the brother of the Lord, who, as there were many of this name, was surnamed the Just by all, from the days of our Lord until now, received the government of the Church with the apostles. This man was holy (ἁìγιος) from his mother's womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came upon his head, he never anointed himself with oil, and never used a bath. He alone was allowed to enter the sanctuary (εἰς ταÌ ἁìγια). He never wore woolen, but linen garments. He was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and was often found upon his bended knees, and asking for the forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as camels', in consequence of his habitual supplication and kneeling before God. And, indeed, on account of his exceeding righteousness, he was called the Just (διαÌ τηÌν ὑπερβοληÌν τῆς δικαιοσυìνης αὐτοῦ ἐκαλεῖτο διìκαιος), and Oblias (̓Ωβλίας), which is in Greek 'bulwark of the people' and 'righteousness,' as the prophets declare concerning him."

It is impossible to accept this account as literally true. There are difficulties in it which cannot be explained.
But there can be little doubt that there is some foundation for the portrait thus drawn; and his surname of "the Just" bears witness to his rigid observance of the Mosaic ritual. This appears to have been a name not uncommonly given to those who were signalized by an extreme devotion to the observance of the Law.

(3) Clement of Alexandria, in a fragment of his 'Hypotyposes,' preserved by Eusebius (Bk. II. 1.), has thus recorded St. James's appointment to the charge of the Church of Jerusalem: "Peter and James and John, after the ascension of our Savior, did not contend for the honor, but chose James the Just as Bishop of Jerusalem." And in another fragment he says, "The Lord imparted the gift of knowledge to James the Just, to John, and Peter, after his resurrection; these delivered it to the rest of the apostles, and they to the seventy."

(4) Epiphanius ('Haer.,' 78:14) strangely enough transfers to St. James the well-known statement of Polycrates with regard to St. John, that he wore the πεìταλον ἐπιÌ τῆς κεφαλῆς (cf. Eusebius, V. 24.) — a statement which cannot be literally true, but could never have been invented except of one who was known to regard the Mosaic ritual with the utmost veneration.

(5) Of the death of St. James two accounts have been preserved. (a) A brief one in Josephus, 'Ant.,' 19. 9:1: "Caesar, having learnt the death of Festus, sends Albinus as governor of Judaea... Ananus... supposing that he had a favorable opportunity in consequence of the death of Festus, Albinus being still on the way, assembled the Sanhedrim, and brought before it James [the brother of him who is called Christ], and some others, and having charged them with breaking the laws, delivered them over to be stoned. But those of the city who seemed most moderate and most accurate in observing the Law were greatly offended at this, and secretly sent to the king, entreating him to send to Ananus with the request not to do these things, saying that he had not acted legally even before this." Eusebius (Bk. II. 23.) and Origen (in Matthew 13:55, 'Contr. Celsus,' 1:47; 2:13) also ascribe to the Jewish historian the statement that the murder of James was the immediate cause of the siege of Jerusalem and the troubles which fell upon the Jews. "These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was the brother of him that is called Christ, and whom the Jews had slain, notwithstanding his pre-eminent justice." There is, however, no sort of doubt that the passage is spurious. It is not found in the existing copies of Josephus.

(6) A longer and very remarkable account is given by Hegesippus in Euseblus, Bk. II. 23. The passage is so familiar that there is no need to repeat it here, more especially as it contains serious difficulties, and is unhesitatingly set aside by Bishop Lightfoot in favor of the shorter version of Josephus.

The date of St. James's death is fixed for us by Josephus as happening between the death of Festus and the arrival of his successor Albinus, i.e. in the year A.D. 62.


As might be expected from the position and character of the writer, the Epistle is addressed to Jewish Christians.

1. "To the twelve tribes... scattered abroad" (James 1:1). "The standpoint of the Epistle," it has been well said, "is essentially Jewish: the address, as we have seen, is to the twelve tribes; the terms' rich' and ' poor' are distributed after the manner of the Old Testament writers; the place of worship is the synagogue (James 2:2); the definition of the faith they possessed is the Jewish creed, the Sh'ma Israel, that 'God is one,' (James 2:19); the oaths prohibited are Jewish (James 5:12, etc.); the sins denounced are those to which the Jews were addicted — pride, self-conceit, ostentation, overbearing, fraud".

2. The somewhat wide salutation is practically limited to Christians by the following ἀδελφοιì μου, and James 2:1. That it is addressed to Christian Jews is also implied in James 1:18; James 2:7; James 5:7, James 5:14. There is force also in Huther's remark, that "if the author as a δοῦλος of Christ had written to non-Christians, his Epistle could only have had the intention of leading them to faith in Christ; but of such an intention there is not the slightest trace found in the Epistle".

We cannot, however, understand the Epistle aright unless we remember that those to whom it is addressed, in becoming Christians, had not ceased to be Jews. We are probably prone to exaggerate the gulf which existed between Jews and Christians in the early days of the Church. At first the preaching of the apostles was "rather a purification than a contradiction of the popular doctrine." Those who were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost must have carried home little more than the fact of the Messiahship of Jesus and the barest rudiments of Christianity. The gospel preached by those "who were scattered abroad upon the persecution which arose about Stephen" would be somewhat fuller, though still incomplete. It was preached "to none but Jews only;" but it spread the new faith over a wide region — "as far as Phoenice and Cyprus and Antioch." Thus Christian communities would be founded in the Jewish quarters in most large cities; but it must have been years before they ceased to be Jews and were entirely separated from the synagogue with a definite and complete organization of their own. A careful examination of the account of St. Paul's missionary labors as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles shows us that, even with the apostle of the Gentiles, it was often a matter of time before his converts were separated from the synagogue.

(1) At Antioch in Pisidia the separation was made after two sabbaths.

(2) At Iconium it was made at once.

(3) At Thessalonica for three sabbaths St. Paul was suffered to preach in the synagogue.

(4) At Bercea apparently the whole synagogue was converted en masse.

(5) At Corinth for some time St. Paul "reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath."

(6) At Ephesus it was three months before "Paul separated the disciples."

In other cases, where men labored, By whom the "liberty of the gospel" was not so emphatically preached, it was probably far longer before the separation was made. Nor is it likely that Berea was the solitary synagogue whose members were won over en masse to the Christian faith. For some years Jewish Christians would go on attending their synagogues and observing the Law as strictly as other Jews, only super adding to it "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory." That they would do so is evidently supposed by St. James, from his remark about Moses in Acts 15:21, and again from his description of the "many thousands of the Jews which believe, who are all zealous of the Law" (Acts 21:20). It is to such as these that he is writing, Not, perhaps, to a definitely organized and mixed Christian Church consisting of Jews and Gentiles, but rather to those synagogues which, like that of Berea, had embraced Christianity. To these he writes in the style of one of the old prophets. Their synagogue was still open to all Jews. Into it the rich man might freely enter. Though not actually a "brother," still there was sufficient likelihood of the message reaching him for St. James to pen words of sternest denunciation, bidding him weep and howl for the miseries that were coming upon him. These communities of Jewish Christians, in the mind of St. James, stood in the position of Israel of old, and required just the same treatment at the hands of Christian teachers and prophets as Judaea and Samaria had received from the prophets of the old covenant (see especially James 4:1-10 and 5:1-6, with notes). This theory of the relative position of the writer and his hearers will, it is believed, satisfactorily account for the remarkable language used, and the allusions to sins which, on any other theory, appear almost incredible in a Christian community.

The object of the Epistle is evidently to exhort these Jewish Christians to patience under the trials to which they were exposed. The Epistle begins and ends with this (James 1:2 and 5:7). The special trials were probably those of persecution from unbelieving Jews. To this there is apparently allusion made in James 2:6 (see note). But while writing with this special object, St. James is not unmindful of the general needs of his readers, and takes occasion

(1) to warn them against various sins and evil tendencies of which they stood in danger; and

(2) to instruct them in various points of Christian morality.

The Epistle, like the sapiential books of the Old Testament, which have so largely influenced the thoughts and phraseology of its writer, is almost impossible to analyze. The following scheme will, however, serve to show the principal subjects treated of, and the order in which they are dis. cussed: —

James 1:1. Salutation.

1.James 1:2-27.

(1) Vers. 2-18. The subject of temptation.

(2) Vers. 19-27. Exhortation

(a) to hear rather than speak;
(b) not only to hear, but to do.

2. James 2. — 4:12.

(1) James 2:0. Warnings against

(a) respect of persons (vers. 1-13);
(b) a mere barren orthodoxy (vers. 14-26).

(2) James 3:0. Further warnings against

(a) over-readiness to teach, leading to general remarks on the need of governing the tongue (vers. 1-12);
(b) jealousy and faction (vers. 13-18).

(3) James 4:1-12. Rebuke of quarrels arising from pride and greed.

3.James 4:13-6.

(1) James 4:13-17. Special denunciation of overweening confidence in our own plans and our ability to carry them out.
(2) James 5:1-6. Special denunciation of rich sinners.

4.James 5:7 — end. Concluding exhortations.

(1) Vers. 7-11. To patience and long-suffering.
(2) Ver. 12. Against swearing.
(3) Vers. 13-20. With regard to behavior in health and sickness.


1. The terminus ad quem is definitely fixed by the death of St. James in A.D. 62.

2. How much earlier the Epistle was written will depend upon the view taken of its relation to the writings of St. Paul and St. Peter.

(1) There are coincidences between St. James and the First Epistle of St. Peter which can hardly be accidental, but must point to a knowledge on the part of one writer of the work of the other (see the notes on James 4:6 and 5:20, where reasons are given for thinking that St. James is the earlier of the two).

(2) The relation between the teaching of St. James and St. Paul on the subject of justification is examined in the notes on James 2:14, seq. If St. James is writing (as many think) with direct reference to a perversion of St. Paul's teaching, his Epistle will be subsequent to those to the Romans and Galatians, and will thus belong to the last years of his life, about A.D. 60-62. But there are strong reasons given in the notes for holding that the teaching of the two apostles is really entirely independent of each other, and that the error which St. James is combating is a strictly Jewish one. Thus we are still left entirely free in our search for terminus a quo. It is, perhaps, impossible to fix one with any degree of exactness, but the arguments for an early rather than a late date seem to the present writer overwhelming. They may be summed up as follows: —

(a) The very slight line which appears to exist between Judaism and Christianity.

(b) The absence of definite Christian phraseology. Contrast the salutation in James 1:1 with that in other Epistles. The term εὐαγγεìλιον never occurs, etc.

(c) The absence of dogmatic teaching. Our Lord's name is only mentioned twice (James 1:1 and 2:1). "The apostle calls Christianity the law of freedom, the royal law of love which God writes on man's heart by faith; but otherwise the weightiest New Testament doctrines are not once touched on". An acknowledgment of our Lord's divinity would, however, underlie the expression in James 2:1, and it must not be overlooked that, by designating himself as the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the writer places Christ on an equality with God. Further, "the circumstance that the author directly unites the Divine judgment with the coming of the Lord, indeed designates the Lord himself as the Judge, points to this higher dignity of Christ". Still, it must strike every reader that there is very little specifically Christian doctrine in this Epistle. In this respect it is interesting to compare it with St. John's Epistles, the latest of New Testament writings. Like St. James's, they are remark- able for the absence of allusion to the historic facts of Christianity, but how full of doctrine which is based upon those facts!

(d) From the absence of all reference to Gentile Christianity, and the questions which arose between Jewish and Gentile Christians, it may fairly be argued that the Epistle was written even prior to the Council of Jerusalem, A.D. 50. On the whole, then, we conclude' that we have before us the very earliest of the writings of the New Testament. With this accords its position (so far as the Epistles are concerned) in the oldest manuscripts, in which, as is well known, the Catholic Epistles precede those of St. Paul. "And this position," says Dean Stanley, in a remarkable passage, which it is well to quote at length, "does, in fact, exactly correspond to its character, both historically and morally. Whether it be or be not the earliest in time, which, however, there is much reason to believe, it is certainly the earliest in spirit. It belongs, if not to an age, at least to a mind, which knew nothing of the contest which shook the whole Christian society to its very foundations in the time of St. Paul; not only is the Gentile Christian completely out of sight, but the distinction between Jew and Christian is itself not yet brought to view; both are equally addressed in the Epistle as belonging to the twelve tribes scattered abroad; it passes at once from rebuking the unbelieving Jews of the higher orders to console the believing Jews of the lower orders; the Christian assembly is still spoken of under the name of ' synagogue;' the whole scene, in short, is that which appears before us in the earlier chapters of the Acts of the Apostles And as in these outward circumstances, so also in its inward spirit, this Epistle exactly coincides with the character of him in whom the Jew and the Christian throughout his whole life were indistinguishably blended together. Christianity appears in it, not as a new dispensation, but as a development and perfection of the old; the Christian's highest honor is, not that he is a member of the universal Church, but that he is the genuine type of the ancient Israelite; it instills no new principles of spiritual life, such as those which were to 'turn the world upside down,' in the teaching of Paul or of John, but only that pure and perfect morality which was the true fulfillment of the Law; it dwells, not on the human Teacher or Friend whose outward acts and words are recorded minutely in St. Mark, or on the human Sufferer whose sorrows and whose tenderness are brought out in St. Luke, nor yet on the inward and essential Divinity impressed upon us by St. John; but as we might again expect from the position of its author, it is the practical comment on that gospel which internal evidence as well as general tradition ascribes to the Church of Palestine, and in which our Lord appears emphatically as the Judge, the Lawgiver, and the King".

The place from which the Epistle was written was undoubtedly Jerusalem. Every notice of St. James, scriptural, historical, and legendary, connects him with this city, and no other place has ever been seriously suggested. Internal evidence points to the same locality, e.g. the allusions to the natural phenomena of Palestine, the "early and the latter rain," the καυìσων, the bitter springs, etc.


So far this has been taken for granted. It will, however, be well to say a few words on this head before concluding the Introduction.
The testimony of Eusebius in the fourth century is given in 'Hist. Eccl.,' Bk. II. 23.: "These accounts are given respecting James, who is said to have written the first of the Catholic Epistles; but it is to be observed that it is considered spurious (νοθευìεται). Not many, indeed, of the ancients have mentioned it, nor yet that called the Epistle of Jude, which is also one of the seven called Catholic Epistles. Nevertheless, we know that these with the rest are publicly used in most of the Churches."

From this passage we gather —

1. That the Epistle was ascribed to James.
2. That doubts were current as to its genuineness.
3. That not much use was made of it by early writers.
4. That nevertheless it was generally read in the Churches.

In Bk. III. 25. Eusebius ranks it among the ἀντιλεγοìμενα, "which are nevertheless well known and recognized by most (γνωριìμων τοῖς ποìλλοις)."

But his own opinion with regard to it may be shown from the fact that he makes free use of it in his other writings, and ascribes it to "the apostle".
At a later date than that of Eusebius it was apparently rejected by Theodore of Mopsuestia, but there is no need to discuss his witness. Turning to earlier writers, we find that St. Cyprian has no reference to it, and that there is nothing in the writings of Tertullian to show that he was acquainted with it. Further, Dr. Westcott says that "there is no external evidence to show that the Epistle of St. James or the Second Epistle of St. Peter was included in the Vetus Latina. The earliest Latin testimonies to both of them... are those of Hilary, Jerome, and Rufinus in his Latin version of Origen". Considerations of style and language are also said to lead to the conclusion that it did not form part of the original African Version of the Scriptures. It is found, however in what appears to be an early Italian recension in Codex Corbeiensis (ff).

Thus the Epistle would seem to have been unknown to the African Church of the first three centuries. Elsewhere the case is different, Against the absence of allusions in the remains of Novatus, and the silence of the 'Muratorian Fragment,' we may set the fact that Hippolytus has one (unacknowledged) quotation from it: ̔Η γὰρ κρίσις ἀνιλεώς ἐστὶ τῷ μηÌ ποιηìσαντι ἐìλεος, and that Irenaeus has one fairly clear allusion to it: "Ipse Abraham... credidit Deo et reputatum est illi ad justitiam et amicus Del vocatus est" ('Adv. Haer.,' IV. 16. 2; cf. James 2:23); while at a still earlier date there are two important witnesses to the knowledge of this Epistle in the West, viz. Hermas, the author of 'The Shepherd,' and Clement of Rome. With regard to the former of these, Dr. Westcott writes that, "'The Shepherd' bears the same relation to the Epistle of St. James as the Epistle of Barnabas does to that of the Hebrews. The idea of a Christian law lies at the bottom of them both; but, according to St. James, it is a law of liberty, centering in man's deliverance from corruption within and ceremonial without; while Hermas rather looks for its essence in the rites of the outward Church." Again, "whole sections of 'The Shepherd' are framed with evident recollection of St. James". The passages in question are too numerous for quotation, but may be seen in full in Professor Charteris' admirable volume on 'Canonicity,' p. 293. [The date of 'The Shepherd' is somewhat difficult to fix precisely. Zahn puts it as early as A.D. 97; others as late as A.D. 140.] Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) was undoubtedly familiar with our Epistle, although he never names the author and makes no formal quotation from it. He speaks of Abraham as called "the friend" (ὁ φιìλος προσαγορευθειìς, ch. 10.; cf. James 2:23), and instances Rahab as saved by faith and hospitality (ch. 12.), an instance "doubtless suggested by Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25" (Lightfoot, in loc.). His quotations of Proverbs 3:34 and 10:12 in ch. 30. and 49. agree closely with St. James's version of these passages, differing from both Hebrew and LXX. There appear also to be reminiscences of James 1:8 in ch. 11., and of 4:1 in ch. 46.. So strong did these coincidences seem to Bishop Lightfoot, that he actually spoke of them as "numerous and patent quotations", although he has since withdrawn the expression as "too strongly worded," while still maintaining that the references seem to be perfectly clear. And yet Alford speaks of the allusions in both Hermas and Clement as "very doubtful indeed"!

To pass from the Western Church to the East. In the third century our Epistle was probably known to Gregory Thaumaturgus. It is directly quoted by Dionysius of Alexandria; and Origern in one passage refers to it as "the Epistle in circulation under the name of James" (this is apparently the first occasion on which it is directly assigned to St. James). Elsewhere he quotes it without further remark ὡς παραÌ ̓Ιακωìβῳ, and, according to the Latin version of his 'Homilies,' he calls the writer "the apostle," and cites it as "divina scriptura". It is uncertain whether it was known to Origen's teacher, Clement of Alexandria. Eusebius (Bk.VI. 14.) says somewhat vaguely that "Clement in his 'Hypotyposes' has given us abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures, not even omitting the disputed ones, I mean the Book of Jude and the other Catholic Epistles." This statement is criticized and examined by Dr. Westcott, and the conclusion at which he arrives is that St. James was probably an exception, and that Clement had no knowledge of it. Against this we may, however, fairly set the fact that the Epistle is included in both the ancient Egyptian Versions, the Memphitic and Thebaic, which belong to the third or even possibly to the second century. While even earlier it finds a place in the Peschito Syriac, which undoubtedly dates from the second century. "This testimony," says Huther, "is of the greater importance, as the country from which the Peschito proceeded closely bordered on that from which the Epistle originated; and as that testimony was repeated and believed in by the Syriac Church of the following age." Melito of Sardis has one strong coincidence with it, which exhausts the list of references in early writers.

From the days of Eusebius down to the sixteenth century scarcely a doubt was raised with regard to its authenticity. At the time of the Reformation its claims were again subjected to a close scrutiny, and, on grounds of internal evidence and supposed opposition to "Pauline" teaching, some writers were inclined to reject it. Luther's hasty and unjust estimate is well known. In the preface to the New Testament he calls it "a right strawy Epistle, for it has no true evangelical character." This remark disappears from later editions, but was never formally retracted. Nor does it stand alone. Huther quotes also statements to the effect that it is "no genuine apostolic Epistle"; that it "was neither written by an apostle nor has the true apostolic ring, nor does it agree with the pure doctrine" ('Kirchenpostille,' delivered in 15'27-8). So in his 'Table Talk,' "Many have endeavored and labored to reconcile the Epistle of James with Paul. Philip Melancthon refers to it in his 'Apology,' but not with earnestness; for 'faith justifies' and 'faith does not justify' are plain contradictions. Whoever can reconcile them, on him I will put my cap, and allow him to call me a fool."

This depreciatory verdict of Luther's rests on an entire misconception of apostolic teaching, and has not convinced many of the non-apostolic origin of our Epistle. The "contradiction" between St. James and St. Paul is shown in the notes on James 2:0. to be purely imaginary. And it is believed that the references to the Epistle in early writers which have been given above, taken together with the steady manner in which it won its way to general acceptance, are amply sufficient to prove it to be a genuine work of him whose name it bears; especially when we consider that it is not difficult to account for the hesitation felt in early days as to the recognition of its claims. "The Epistle was directed only to the Jewish-Christian Churches, and the more these, by holding to the original type, distinguished and separated themselves from the other Churches, the more difficult must it have been to regard an Epistle directed to them as the common property of the Church, especially as it appeared to contain a contradiction to the doctrine of the Apostle Paul". That the Epistle was finally accepted by the whole Church in spite of these adverse circumstances is surely a consideration to which great weight should be given.


1. The Epistle is contained in the following uncial manuscripts: — The four great Bibles of the fourth and fifth centuries. Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Sinaiticus (א), of the fourth century; Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi (C), of the fifth century. (The last-mentioned manuscript is defective towards the close of the Epistle, and only contains James 1:1-2.)

Besides these, it is found in three secondary uncials: Codex Mosquensis (K2), of the ninth century; Codex Angelicus (L, formerly G), of the ninth century (quite a different manuscript from the very valuable L, Codex Regius, of the Gospels); Codex Porphyrianus (P), a palimpsest of the ninth century, published by Tischendorf (in this James 2:12-21 are barely legible).

2. Besides these uncial manuscripts, it is contained in more than two hundred cursive manuscripts.

3. Versions —

(1) Syriac; the Peschito (second century); and Philoxenian of the fifth or sixth.

(2) The Memphitic and Thebaic (second or third century) Egyptian Versions.

(3) As has been already mentioned, it was not in the original old Latin Version, as made in Africa. It is found, however, in Codex Corbeiensis (ff), which apparently contains an Italian recension of the text, and, partially in (m) the readings extracted by Mai from a speculum wrongly ascribed to Augustine. This contains "an interesting but not early old Latin text". The fragments found in s (Codex Bobbiensis), often quoted as "Old Latin," are said by Dr. Hort to be "apparently Vulgate only." It is scarcely necessary to mention that the Epistle is contained in St. Jerome's version; but the reader should note that the readings quoted in the Commentary as Vulgate are taken (unless it is stated to the contrary) from Codex Amiatinus, and not from the Clementine edition.

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