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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

James Epistle of

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1. Literary characteristics.-The Epistle strikes us at once as the expression of a vigorous personality. The author plunges into his subject with a bold paradox, and his short, decisive sentences fall like hammer-strokes. He constantly employs the imperative, and makes much use of the rhetorical question. His rebukes contain some of the sharpest invective in the NT (James 4:1-4; James 5:1-6), and he knows when irony will serve him best (James 2:19). He piles up metaphor upon metaphor until the impression becomes irresistible (James 3:3-12), and multiplies attributes with the same effect of emphasis (e.g. ‘earthly, sensual, devilish’ [James 3:15; cf. James 1:4; James 1:8; James 1:19]). Like most vigorous writers, he delights in antithesis (cf. James 1:9 f., James 1:22; James 1:25, James 3:5, James 4:7). In his illustrations he uses direct speech with dramatic effect (‘sit thou here in a good place,’ etc. [James 2:3; cf. James 2:16; James 4:13]). Every here and there are struck out, like sparks from the flint of this rather hard-edged style, phrases of arresting beauty and significance: ‘the crown of life which the Lord promised to them that love him’ (James 1:12); ‘the grace of the fashion of it perisheth’ (James 1:11); ‘mercy glorieth against judgement’ (James 2:13); ‘What is your life? For ye are a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away’ (James 4:14); ‘Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receive the early and latter rain’ (James 5:7); ‘the supplication of a righteous man, when it puts forth its strength, availeth much’ (James 5:16).

The form is, in the main, the terse, gnomic form of the Wisdom literature, but the spirit that inspires it has deeper roots. It goes back to OT prophecy. It is an Amos that we seem to hear in the vigorous denunciation of James 5:1-6; Isaiah is the direct inspirer of the stately passage in James 1:10 f., and the writer has distilled the quintessence of the prophets into that fine saying which sums up his teaching and comes home with special force to the modern world: ‘Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to succour (cf. Luke 1:68) the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world’ (James 1:27).

It is in part, at least, owing to this gnomic style and prophetic temper that the Epistle does not form a logically constructed whole, according to Western theories of composition. This is not to say that it has no cohesion. A considerable part of it is grouped round three or four main ideas-temptation, the bridling of the tongue, the danger of lip-religion, the relation of rich and poor. Within and between these groups the movement is determined, to an extent which seems curious to our ways of thought, by verbal associations. The emphatic word of one sentence becomes a catchword linking it to the next.

It may be worth while to analyze a paragraph with a view to bringing this out. The salutation, ‘James … to the twelve tribes … giveth joy’ (James 1:1), supplies the key-word for the apparently abrupt opening: ‘And joy unmixed count it, brethren, when …’ (James 1:2). Again, ‘that ye may be perfect, lacking nothing (James 1:4). And if any lack wisdom [for the apparently abrupt introduction of wisdom, see below], let him ask … (James 1:5), but let him ask in faith’ (James 1:5). This idea is then developed up to the end of James 1:8. The transition to James 1:9, ‘Now let the lowly brother,’ etc., is apparently again abrupt (see below). James 1:12 returns, as though James 1:4-11 might be considered as a digression, to the idea of temptation, and, passing from the sense of ‘trial’ to that of ‘inducement to evil,’ deals with some difficulties connected therewith. It is interesting to note that two abrupt transitions in the above can be explained, with considerable probability, as due to literary reminiscence. In James 1:5 we want a connexion between ‘wisdom,’ which appears unexpectedly, and the ideas of ‘perfect’ and ‘lacking’; and this certainly seems to be supplied by Wisdom of Solomon 9:6 : ‘For even if a man be perfect among the sons of men, yet if the wisdom that cometh from thee be not with him, he shall be held in no account.’ Again in Wisdom of Solomon 9:9, where the transition appears quite abrupt, a connexion with the central idea of wisdom is supplied by Sirach 11:1 : ‘The wisdom of the lowly shall lift up his head,’ and with the next verse Sirach 3:18 may be compared: ‘The greater thou art, humble thyself the more, and thou shalt find favour before the Lord’ (cf. also, for the double antithesis, Sirach 20:11).

2. Religious attitude and teaching.-The main purpose of the Epistle is to protest against prevailing worldliness (James 4:4), which finds expression in avarice (James 4:3; James 5:4), pleasure-seeking (James 1:14; James 4:1), the vaunt of a barren orthodoxy (James 2:14 f.), social arrogance and sycophancy (James 2:1 f.), bitter contentions (James 4:1 f.), sins of the tongue (James 1:26; James 3:5-10). Against these the author holds up the ideal of a life inspired by the ‘wisdom which is from above’ (James 3:17), which here plays the part assigned to the Spirit (as gift) in St. Paul and the NT generally. (With James 3:17 cf. Galatians 5:22, and with James 1:5 cf. Luke 11:13 and John 3:34.) This heavenly wisdom is above all things ‘pure’ (ἁγνή), primarily no doubt in the sense of unstained loyalty to God (cf. the reference in James 4:4 to the worldly-minded as μοιχαλίδες, and see 2 Corinthians 11:2), and expresses itself in humility (James 1:10), meekness (James 1:19 f., James 3:13), reasonableness (James 3:17), peaceableness (James 3:17 f.), mercifulness (James 2:13, James 3:17), whole-hearted earnestness (James 3:17, James 5:6; James 5:8), active beneficence (James 1:27; James 3:17), dependence on the Divine will (James 4:7; James 4:10; James 4:15), obedience inspired by faith (James 2:21-25). It has often been remarked that purely theological conceptions occupy little space in the Epistle. And this is literally true; but there is a good deal of compressed theology in expressions like ‘of his own will he brought us to birth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures’ (James 1:18; cf. John 1:13; John 6:63, Romans 10:17; Romans 8:19 f.), ‘the implanted word, which is able to save your souls’ (James 1:21; cf. Romans 1:16), ‘the perfect law of liberty’ (James 1:25; cf. Matthew 5:17-20, Romans 8:2), ‘heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him’ (James 2:5), ‘the parousia of the Lord is at hand’ (James 5:8); not to mention James 2:1, if with some very good scholars we take τῆς δόξης as in apposition to τοῦ κυρἱου ἡμῶν Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ, and understand ‘our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory’ (in conformity with 2 Corinthians 4:6, Hebrews 1:3, John 1:14), (as a reference to the Incarnation. It is remarkable, however, that the Epistle contains no reference to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, or, in connexion with such a passage as James 5:10 f., to His earthly life.

The writer is apparently little interested in questions of organization (contrast the Didache, Clement, Ignatius). It is only incidentally that we hear of the ‘elders of the Church’ (James 5:14)-the only officials mentioned; and we infer, rather than are told, that the teaching office was not strictly regulated (James 3:1). Incidental, too, is the mention of the meeting for worship (James 2:2), and we hear nothing as to its conduct. (For συναγωγή in the sense of a Christian assembly cf. Herm. Mand. xi. 9; Ignat. ad Polyc. iv. 2.)

3. Reception in the Church.-Re-ascending the stream of tradition from the point at which our present NT canon may be considered as definitely established in the Western Church (Third Council of Carthage, a.d. 397), we find that the acceptance of the Ep. of James long remained dubious. Jerome, de Vir. Illustr. ii. (a.d. 392) says that, while some asserted it to have been issued by another under the name of James (‘ab alio quodam sub nomine eius edita’), it had gradually, as time went on, established its authority. Eusebius, HE [Note: E Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.).] iii. 25 (circa, about a.d. 314) mentions it along with Jude, 2 Peter , 2 and 3 John, among the books which, although widely known, were ‘disputed’ (ἀντιλεγόμενα). Again, in ii. 23, after mentioning the martyrdom of James, he proceeds: ‘whose epistle that is said to be which is first among the Epistles styled Catholic,’ adding that it was not free from suspicion (lit. [Note: literally, literature.] ‘is held spurious’ [sc. by some]), because many ancient writers make no mention of it, as was also the case with Jude, though all the Catholic Epistles were publicly read in most churches. Origen (circa, about 240) suggests the same uncertainty when he refers to it as the Epistle ‘which goes under the name of James’ (ἡ φερομένη Ιακώβου ἐπιστολή [in Ioann. 19:6]), though according to the Latin version of the Homilies he elsewhere quotes it as Scripture (Com. in Ep. ad Romans 4:1), and as by ‘James the Lord’s brother’ (ib. Romans 4:8). It is noteworthy that in his Com. in Matt. (mat t 10:17) he mentions the Ep. of Jude but not that of James. The Muratorian Canon omits it, along with Hebrews , 1 and 2 Peter (on the other hand, the Peshitta includes it, while omitting Jude, 2 Peter , 2 and 3 John, and the Apocalypse). Clement of Alexandria is said to have included a commentary on ‘Jude and the rest of the Catholic Epistles’ in his Hypotyposeis ( Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.)vi. 14); but, while his notes on 1 Peter , 1 and 2 John, and Jude are extant in a Latin translation, James is wanting. As regards the indirect evidence of quotations, the earliest work for which a dependence on James can be established with any high degree of probability is the Shepherd of Hermas, which is variously dated between a.d. 100 and 150. (For Hermas’ use of James see the article by C. Taylor in JPh [Note: Ph Journal of Philology.] xviii. [1890] 297ff. on the priority of the Didache to Hermas.) Some critics are inclined to see in Clement of Rome evidences of the use of James. But none of the passages are decisive, and in an extended reference to the faith of Abraham (ad Cor. x. 1ff.) Clement quotes Genesis 15:6 in its proper context, following St. Paul; and, though he refers to the sacrifice of Isaac, he speaks of it as offered διʼ ὑπακοῆς and not διὰ πἰστεως.

4. Date and authorship.-As might perhaps hare been expected from the character of the external evidence, the internal evidence is enigmatic. This will appear from a statement of some of the various theories, with the difficulties which each involves.

A. Take first the theory which, accepting the traditional authorship,* [Note: The term ‘genuineness’ is strictly inapplicable, since the Ep. makes no explicit claim to be by James the Lord’s, brother. It has occasionally been attributed to James the son of Zebedee. Pfleiderer (Primitive Christianity, Eng. tr., London, 1906-11, iv. 311) thinks of some unknown James.] makes the Ep. prior to the main Epp. of St. Paul and unrelated to his teaching. Against this the following objections are alleged.

(a) There is strong evidence, it is held, that the passage in James 2:14 ff. has in view St. Paul’s teaching in Romans 3, 4, and is therefore subsequent to that Epistle. The arguments advanced in favour of this position are as follows. (1) In denying that a man is saved by faith without works, James is attacking a paradox; but no one is at pains to attack a paradox unless someone else had previously maintained it. Now there is no evidence that this paradox had been maintained previous to St. Paul. Faith had been praised and works had been praised, and, if we may accept 2 Esdras (whatever its actual date) as a witness to pre-Christian Jewish beliefs, the combination of faith and works had been praised (2 Esdras 13:3; cf. 2 Esdras 9:7), but the antithetic opposition of faith and works, to the apparent disparagement of the latter, originated, so far as our evidence goes, with St. Paul. (2) The Scripture example to which both writers appeal is much more favourable to St. Paul’s argument than to James’s. In Genesis 15:6 ‘Abraham believed God,’ etc., refers specifically to belief in God’s promise; James by an exegetical tour de force gives it a prospective reference to Abraham’s ‘works’ in the sacrifice of Isaac. This is the procedure, not of a writer who is choosing his illustrations freely, but of one who must at all hazards wrest from an adversary a formidable weapon. (3) The passage is written in a technical phraseology: δικαιοῦσθαι ἐκ πἱστεως, δικαιοῦσθαι ἐξ ἔργων, πίστις χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων, νεκρός (applied to faith, where St. Paul applies it to works). It is less probable, it is urged, that this terminology was invented by James, who only employs it in this controversial passage, than by St. Paul, for whom it is the necessary expression of some of his fundamental doctrines.

(b) In a number of other passages there are points of contact, and in some of them the suggestion of literary priority is distinctly on the side of St. Paul. For example, if we compare St. Paul’s statement in Romans 8:2, ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free (ἠλευθέρωσέ με [v.l. [Note: .l. varia lectio, variant reading.] σε]) from the law of sin and death,’ with James’s references to the law of liberty (νόμος τῆς ἐλευθερίας [James 1:25; James 2:12]), the latter succinct, technical-looking expression has the air of an already coined and current phrase, while St. Paul seems to be stating a fact of experience.† [Note: Other parallels which have been noted are James 1:3 f. || Romans 5:3 f.; James 1:22-25 || Romans 2:13; James 4:1 || 1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 14:33, Romans 7:23; James 4:4 || Romans 8:7; James 4:11 f. || Romans 14:4; James 3:17 || Galatians 5:22.]

(c) With the exception of the language of Hebrews, the Greek is the most accomplished in the NT. There is a certain amount of rhetorical elaboration; there is an unusual proportion of non-Septuagint classical words; there are many allusions to the Hellenistic Wisdom literature, and apparently some to Greek classical literature. This is not exactly the style we should have expected from the James of tradition, who was of intensely Jewish sympathies and presided over the Aramaic-speaking church of Jerusalem. On the other hand, the possibility of its being a translation is denied by the great majority of those competent to speak on the point (whatever their opinion as regards the authorship).

(d) The constitution of the membership of the Church, including a considerable proportion of rich people, does not point to an early date.

(e) While it would be rash to affirm that a declension of Christian life such as the Epistle implies could not have taken place within two or three decades, the vices of avarice and worldliness which are most prominent suggest a more settled and prosperous community than we should have expected.

(f) In the rebuke of the rich merchants for the irreligious temper in which they laid their plans, we should have expected, in these early decades, a reference to the imminence of the Parousia, rather than merely to the uncertainty of the individual life.

(g) We should also have expected some reference to the Death and Resurrection of Christ, and to Messianic doctrine, which, as all the evidence seems to show, formed the staple of early Christian preaching.

(h) The address itself constitutes a difficulty. If, as seems natural in a Christian writing, it means Jewish Christians in the literal Diaspora, where were these to be found prior to the Pauline missions? Moreover, there is no hint that the churches addressed contained Gentile Christians. But were there ever any purely Jewish-Christian churches except in Palestine? And how could they be described as in the Diaspora?

To these objections the following answers are given:

(a) (1) While we have no evidence on the point, it is not improbable, in view of the stress laid upon faith in the teaching of Jesus, that the faith-and-works paradox may have come up in early Christianity prior to St. Paul. (2) Abraham was, in the Jewish schools, a stock example of faith (see Lightfoot, Galatians 5, London, 1876, p. 159f.), so that James and St. Paul might have introduced him quite independently of one another; and the following passage shows that James’s rather loose employment of Genesis 15:6 is not peculiar to himself: 1 Maccabees 2:52, ‘Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness?’ Mayor reverses the point of the argument by remarking that it is inconceivable, if James wrote after St. Paul, that he did not make an attempt to guard his position against so formidable an attack (Ep. of St. James 3, p. xcviii). (3) The technical language may have been already in existence (see under (1)). Moreover, some of the terms used occur in a more clearly defined form in St. Paul (cf. Romans 3:20; Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26; Romans 3:28 : ἔργα νόμου, πίστις Χριστοῦ or Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ)-which points to a later date and a deliberate guarding against misunderstanding.

(b) Arguments of this kind depend so much upon subjective impression that no great stress can be placed on them.

(c) There is a good deal of evidence that Galilaeans were generally bilingual; and, as there was certainly a large Greek-speaking element in the church at Jerusalem, the leader of that church would need to acquire some facility in using Greek. Moreover, it is quite possible to exaggerate the excellence of the author’s Greek. He avoids periods of any length; and, though more ‘correct,’ does not give the impression of writing with the same ease as St. Paul.

(d) (e) We have no sufficient evidence to enable us to pronounce definitely on these points, and individual estimates of probability are not an adequate ground on which to base arguments. Mayor refers those who are impressed with the declension of Christian morals ‘to a study of the life of Fox or Wesley, or of any honest missionary journal’ (op. cit. p. cliii).

(f) The author may be here using an argumentum ad hominem. Individual mortality was an undeniable fact; a reference to the imminence of the Parousia would depend for its impressiveness on the liveliness of the faith of those addressed. A little further on, when encouraging the faithful oppressed to patience, the author does refer to the Parousia.

(g) These facts were the staple of missionary preaching; here the author can assume them as known.

(h) Zahn (Introd. i. 76f., 91f.) takes the address as referring metaphorically to Christians generally, the existing Christians being, as a matter of fact, those of the Palestinian churches. Mayor (p. cxxxvii) refers it to the Christians of the Eastern Diaspora (cf. Acts 2:9 and St. Paul’s raid on the Christians of Damascus [Acts 9:2 f.]).

Further positive arguments in favour of the ‘genuineness’ and early date of the Ep. are: (α) the unassuming character of the writer’s self-designation, which makes against forgery, while his authoritative tone implies a position of influence; (β) the number of apparent echoes from sayings of Jesus, which yet never take the form of quotations from the Gospels; (γ) the number of linguistic coincidences with the speech of James at the Apostolic Conference, and the Decree, which was apparently drafted by him (salutation χαίρειν [James 1:1 || Acts 15:23]; name called ‘upon’ persons [Septuagint ] [James 2:7 || Acts 15:17]; ‘hearken, brethren’ [James 2:5 || Acts 15:13]; ἐπισκέπτεσθαι [James 1:27 || Acts 15:14]; ἐπιστρέφειν [James 5:19 f. || Acts 15:19]; τηρεῖν, διατηρεῖν ἑαυτοὺς ἀπό [James 1:27 || Acts 15:29]; repetition of brethren (brother) [James 4:11 || Acts 15:23]). (In favour of the historicity of the Decree see Lake, Earlier Epp. of St. Paul, 1911, pp. 30ff., 48ff.) (δ) In favour of an early date we have the unorganized character of the teaching office (James 3:1), the mention of elders only (James 5:14), the anointing of the sick with a view to healing (James 5:14), the confession of sins one to another (James 5:16).

B. Those who, while holding the traditional view as to the authorship, feel obliged to recognize in James 2:14 f. a reference to Pauline teaching, have recourse to the hypothesis that the Ep. was written either after the appearance of Romans or at least after James had received reports as to the Pauline teaching. Against this, the objection lies that, once the controversies raised by St. Paul’s preaching had begun, it is inconceivable that an Ep. written to Jewish Christians of the Diaspora should contain no reference to the burning questions about the relation of Gentile converts to circumcision and the Law (cf. Mayor, pp. cx, cxlvf., and Zahn, Introd. i. 136f.). The present writer is not aware that any satisfactory answer has been given to this objection.* [Note: Feine, who feels its force (Jakobusbrief, p. 58), tries to evade it by the hypothesis that the Ep. was originally a homily addressed to the church at Jerusalem, which was only later, as a kind of afterthought, circulated in the Diaspora (p. 95). For criticism of Feine, see E. R. Kühl, SK lxvii. [1894), esp. p. 813ff.]

C. The hypothesis that the Ep. is an originally Jewish work adapted by a Christian writer has been maintained by Spitta and Massebieau (see Literature below) on the ground of (1) the scantiness of specifically Christian doctrine-an unmistakably Christian reference is admitted only in James 1:1 and James 2:1; (2) close affinities with Jewish literature; (3) the suggestion of interpolation in the curious position of τῆς δόξης in James 2:1, where a simplification would be introduced by omitting ἡμῶνʼ Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

To this it is replied (1) that there is more specifically Christian doctrine than these writers admit: e.g. in James 1:18 the combination of the ideas of ‘begetting,’ ‘word of truth,’ and ‘firstfruits’ is much more naturally referred to Christian doctrine than to the original creation (as Spitta); and phrases like ‘the coming (Parousia) of the Lord’ (James 5:7-8), ‘the perfect law of liberty’ (James 1:25), ‘the elders of the church’ (James 5:14), ‘the goodly name by which ye are called’ (James 2:7), ‘my beloved brethren’ (James 1:16; James 1:19; James 2:5), certainly suggest a Christian atmosphere. No evidence is produced that a faith-and-works controversy such as that implied in James 2:14 f. had a risen in pre-Christian Judaism. (2) That the work should show close affinities with the OT and with Jewish Hellenistic literature is in no way surprising if the author was a Jewish Christian. (3) That a Christian interpolator should have been content to interpolate only in James 1:1 and James 2:1 is hardly conceivable. Accepting the text of James 2:1 as it stands, there is nothing very violent in taking τῆς δόξης as an appellation of Christ, in apposition with τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ; cf. Luke 2:32 and perhaps 1 Peter 4:14 (so Mayor and Hort, following Bengel; see Mayor3, p. 80ff.).

Two further considerations against this view have to be added: (a) that, if there is little that is distinctively Christian, there is nothing distinctively Jewish. Harnack writes: ‘Spitta has forgotten to consider what the Epistle does not contain.’ Christianity was a reformation of Judaism which discarded a mass of religious and ritual material. Now of this Jewish material which Christianity discarded the Ep. contains no trace (Chronol. 489 n. [Note: . note.] ). (b) Again, the apparent echoes from the teaching of Jesus are hardly satisfactorily accounted for by the hypothesis of a common source.

D. A theory which shares with the last the hypothesis that the name of Jesus in James 1:1 and James 2:1 is not original is that of J. H. Moulton, who holds that the Ep. was written by James the Lord’s brother, but for non-Christian Jews, and that therefore distinctively Christian phraseology was deliberately omitted. The mention of the name of Jesus came in by way of a gloss (Expositor, 7th ser. iv. 45-55). This theory has the advantage of accounting for the textual difficulty in James 2:1, for the Judaistic tone combined with the presence of (unemphasized) Christian thoughts, and for the ultimate though late and disputed reception of the book.

Against this it is urged that (1) the curious subtlety of mind involved in the writing of the supposed veiled tract harmonizes ill with the sternness and vigour of the writer. (2) It is not clear what the writer could have hoped to accomplish by it. (3) Moreover, some of the more definitely Christian phrases quoted above are not easy to dispose of, and the difficulty about James 2:14 ff. remains, for those who cannot find its presuppositions entirely in Judaism.

E. There is the type of theory according to which the Ep. was written, not by James the Lord’s brother and not in the Apostolic Age, but by an unknown author, late in the 1st or early in the 2nd century. The attractions of this type of theory are that it gets rid of the difficulty arising from the knowledge of the Pauline Epistles combined with absence of reference to the controversies about the Law, as also of that arising from the knowledge of Jesus’ teaching combined with absence of reference to His life. It accounts for the moralism, the absence of Messianic doctrine, the slightness of the reference to the Parousia. It accounts, better than the early date, for the condition of the Church, with its worldliness and lip-religion.

Of the theories of this type the most definite is that of Harnack. He finds a positive indication of date in the references to persecution in James 2:5 f. He understands this of the apostasy of worldly Christians and their betrayal of their fellow-Christians. To this he finds an exact parallel in Hermas, Sim. 9:19, where the ‘mountain black as soot’ (9:1) represents those who have revolted from the faith and spoken wicked things against the Lord, and betrayed the servants of God (cf. also chs. 21, 26, 28). Such delations, as frequent occurrences, cannot be placed earlier than about a.d. 120. On the other hand, there is nothing in the Ep. which would require us to bring it down beyond the first third of the 2nd century. He therefore dates it between 120 and 130. But it is not to be thought of as a forgery, for (1) anyone composing an ostensible letter would have taken more pains to cast it into epistolary form; (2) a forger would have made it clearer who he professed to be; and (3) he would not have contradicted the generality of the address by the particularity of some of the references. The most probable hypothesis is, therefore, that it was a compilation from the writings of one of those prophetic teachers who, far down into the Post-Apostolic Age, still spoke with a sense of inspiration and an admitted authority. Shortly after his death this was issued by a redactor, anonymously. In its anonymous form it had a limited circulation among Palestinian Christians. About the end of the 2nd cent. it found its way into ‘the early Catholic world,’ and, in view of the conceptions then prevailing as to the primitive apostolic type of doctrine, it is not surprising that it should have been attributed to James. (In addition to Chronol. ii. 1. p. 485f., see the excursus on the Cath. Epp. in Texte and Untersuchungen ii. 1, p. 106f., where the general presuppositions of the hypothesis are more fully and lucidly act forth.)

Against this theory the following objections are offered. (1) The hypothesis is unduly complicated. (2) The religious spirit of the Ep. gives the impression of being very much earlier than that of Hermas. (3) The ultimate association of the Ep. with James of Jerusalem and its consequent reception are not fully accounted for. The passage relied on to prove the date (James 2:6 f.) is susceptible of a different interpretation. The rich man and the poor man of James 2:2 apparently both come into the Christian assembly as strangers, and there is nothing to show that the rich of James 2:6 are Christians rather than outsiders. In fact, the latter relation is suggested by the fact that they are said to blaspheme the name by which ‘you’ (not ‘they’) have been called.

As is sufficiently apparent from the number and variety of the theories (of which this survey is by no means exhaustive), the problem of date and authorship admits of no easy and convincing solution. In a work of the present character it seems best simply to be content to say so.

Literature (grouped according to the critical theories noticed above. Where other theories are advocated, some indication is given). A. J. B. Mayor, Ep. of St. James, London, 1892 (31910); R. J. Knowling, Ep. of St. James, in Westminster Comm., do. 1904; T. Zahn, Introd. to NT, Eng. translation of 3rd ed., Edinburgh, 1909, i. 73-151.

B. F. J. A. Hort, Ep. of St. James (as far as 4:7; ed. J. O. F. Murray), London, 1909; P. Feine, Der Jakobusbrief, nach Lehranschauungen und Entstehungsverhältnissen untersucht, Eisenach, 1893; A. Plummer, The General Epp. of St. James and St. Jude (Expositor’s Bible, London, 1891) (date either a.d. 45-49 or 53-62).

C. F. Spitta, Zur Gesch. u. Litt. des Urchristentums, ii., Göttingen, 1896, pp. 1-155; L. Massebieau, ‘L’Epître de Jacques, est-elle l’œuvre d’un Chrétien?’ in RHR [Note: HR Revue de l’Histoire des Religions.] xxxii. [1895] 249-283.

D. J. H. Moulton, ‘The Ep. of James and the Sayings of Jesus,’ in Expositor, 7th ser. iv. [1907] 45-55.

E. A. Harnack, Die Chronologie, Leipzig, 1904, ii. 1. p. 485ff., Texte and Untersuchungen ii. 1 [1884] 106f.; A. Jülicher, Introd. to NT, Eng. translation , London, 1904; J. Moffatt, Introd. to Literature of the New Testament (Moffatt)., Edinburgh, 1911; B. W. Bacon, Introd. to NT, New York, 1900; A. S. Peake, A Crit. Introd. to the NT, London, 1909.

Other views: G. Currie Martin, ‘The Ep. of James as a Storehouse of the Sayings of Jesus,’ in Expositor, 7th ser. iii. [1907] 174-184 (Ep. works up collection of Sayings made by James); W. Brückner, Die chronol. Reihenfolge, in welcher die Briefe des NT verfasst sind, Haarlem, 1890, pp. 287-295 (addressed to a conventicle of Jewish Christians of Essene sympathies at Rome in the reign of Hadrian); O. Pfleiderer, Primitive Christianity, iv. (Eng. translation , London, 1911) 293-311 (2nd half of 2nd cent.).

W. Montgomery.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'James Epistle of'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/j/james-epistle-of.html. 1906-1918.

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