corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

James, Epistle of

Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

said, according to Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 2, 23), to be the first of the so- called Catholic epistles (καθολικαί ), as being addressed to classes of Christians rather than to individuals or particular communities. (See EPISTLES, CATHOLIC).

I. Authorship. As the writer simply styles himself "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the question as to whom this may designate has been a subject of keen and prolonged controversy, since, as Eusebius has again remarked, there were several of this name. James the Great, or the son of Zebedee, was put to death under Herod Agrippa about the year 44 and, therefore, the authorship cannot with any propriety be ascribed to him, though a Syriac MS., published by Widmandstadt, and an old Latin version, published by Mhartianay and Sabatier, make the assertion. The authorship has been assigned by not a few to James the Less, μικρός, the son of Alpheus or Cleophas, and by others to James, the Lord's brother. Many, however, maintain that the two names were borne by the same individual, James being called the Lord's brother either as being a cousin or adoptive brother of Jesus (Lange, art. Jacobus in Herzog's Encyklopadie), or as a son of Joseph by a Levirate connection with the widow of Cleophas-the opinion of Epiphanius and Theophylact; or as a son of Joseph by a former marriage-the view of St. Chrysostom, Hilary, Cave, and Basnage. On the other hand, it is held by some that James, son of Alphaeus, and James, brother of our Lord, w-ere distinct persons, the latter being a uterine brother of Jesus, and standing, according to the representation of the Gospels, in the same relation with him to their common mother Mary-as in Matthew 12:47; Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; Acts 1:14. On the whole, we are inclined to the former hypothesis, but we cannot enter into the question, referring the reader to the previous article, and to that on BROTHERS OF OUR LORD. There are also three excellent monographs on the subject: Blom, Theol. Dissert. de τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς κυρίου (Lugd. Bat. 1839); Schaff, Das Verhaltniss des Jacobus Bruders des Herms (Berlin, 1842); Wijbelingh, Quis est epistolae Jacobi Scriptor? (Groningen, 1854). For the other side, see Mill on the Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels, p. 219, ed. sec., 1861. Dr. Mill held the perpetual virginity of Mary, or that she was, in ecclesiastical language, ἀειπαρθένος, and thus virtually forecloses the entire investigation. It serves little purpose to sneer at those who hold the opposite theory as having their prototypes in the Antidicoimarianites or Helvidians of the 4th century.

According to our view, the author of this epistle was the Lord's brother, and an apostle, or one of the twelve. In Galatians 2:9, Paul classes him with Peter and John, all three being pillars (στῦλοι ). He is said by Hegesippus (Eusebius, Hist. 2, 23) to have received the government of the Church, μετὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων, not plost postilos, as Jerome wrongly renders it, but along with the apostles-as the natural rendering is-or was received by them into a collegiate relation. In the pseudo-Clementines, and in the Apostolical Constitutions, how-ever, he is traditionally separated from the apostles. It is quite groundless on the part of Wieseler (Studien unid Kritiken, 1842), Stier, and Davidson to argue that the James mentioned in the first chapter of Galatians is a different person from the James referred to in the second chapter. Again, we have Paul distinctly acknowledging the high position of the brethren of the Lord when he ranges them between "other apostles" and "Cephas" in 1 Corinthians 9:5. By universal consent James was called δίκαιος, and, being martyred, was succeeded by a cousin, Symeon, second of the cousins of the Lord, and a son of Alphelus (ὄντα ἀνεψιὸν τοῦ Κυρίου δεύτερον ). Thus James was the superintendent of the Church at Jerusalem, and, probably on account of continuous residence, possessed of higher influence there than Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, who could only. be an occasional visitor. "Certain from James" (τινὲς ἀπὸ Ι᾿ακωβου ) went down to Antioch, before whom Peter prevaricated, as if he had stood in awe of the stricter Judaic principles of James and his party (Acts 15; Galatians 2). It seems, therefore, very natural that one occupying this position in the theocratic metropolis should write to his believing brethren of the Dispersion. He sympathized so strongly with the myriads of the Jews who believed and yet were zealous of the law - ζηλωταὶ τοῦ νόμου that for their sakes, and to ward off their hostility, he advised the apostle Paul to submit to an act of conformity. This conservative spirit, this zeal for the law at least as the moral rule of life, and this profession of Christianity along with uniform obedience to the "customs," seem to us characteristic elements of the epistle before us.

The opinion that the author of this epistle was different from James, the son of Alpheeus, and not an apostle, is held by Clement, Herder, De Wette, Neander, Kern, Schaff, Winer, Stier, Rothe, and Alford. Davidson, while holding the opinion that the Lord's brother and James the apostle are different persons, ascribes the epistle to the latter. But the theory seems to violate all the probabilities that may be gathered from the early fathers and historians. That James, the Lord's brother, is James the apostle, is an opinion maintained by Baronius, Lardner, Pearson, Gabler, Eichhorn, Hug, Guericke, Meier, Gieseler, Theile, and the most of other writers.

II. Canonical Authority. The epistle is found in the Syriac Peshito in the 2nd century, a version which circulated in the neighborhood of that country to which' James and his readers belonged, and the translator and his coadjutors must have had special historical reasons for inserting James in their canon, as they exclude the Second and Third Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse. There are clauses in Clement of Rome (Ad Cor. 32) and in Hermas (Mandat. 12, 15) which probably may refer to correspondent portions of this epistle, though, perhaps, they may only allude directly to the Septuagint. The quotation from the Latin version of Irenaeus (Adyers. Haeres. 4:16) appears to be more direct in the phrase "et amicus Dei vocatus est." But this phrase, found also in Clement, seems to have been a' current one, and Philo calls Abraham by the same appellation. We cannot, therefore, lay such immediate stress on these passages as is done by Kern, Wiesinger, and others, though there is a presumption in favor of the opinion that passages in the apostolical fathers, bearing any likeness of style or thought, to the apostolical writings, were borrowed from them, as either direct imitations or unconscious reproductions. This epistle is quoted by Origen (In Joan., in Operat, 4, 306); and the Latin version of Rufinus uses the phrase Jacobus apostolus as a preface to a quotation. This father quotes the epistle also as ascribed to James ἐν τῇ φερομένῃ Ι᾿ακώβου ἐπιστολῇ ; though, as Kern remarks, Origen says that the doctrine "faith without works is dead" is not received by all οὐ συγχωρηθέν. Clement of Alexandria does not quote it, but Eusebius says that he expounded all the Catholic Epistles, including, however, in the range of his comments the Epistle of Barnabas and the so-called Apocalypse of Peter. Tertullian seems to make no reference to it, though Credner supposes an allusion to 2, 23 in the second book Adversus Judaeos (Opera, ed. Oehler, 2, 704). Eusebius places it among the Antilegomena (Histor. Eccles. 2, 23; 3:25), saying of the epistle, under the first reference, after he had just spoken of its author's death, ἰστέον δὲ ὠς νοθεύεται μέν, etc., "It is reckoned spurious - not many of the ancients have mentioned it;" subjoining, however, that it and Jude were used in most of the churches. In other places Eusebius quotes James without hesitation, calling the epistle by the sacred title of γραφή , and its author ἱερὸς ἀπόστολος . Jerome is very explicit, saying that James wrote one epistle, which some asserted had been published by another in his name, but that by degrees and in process of time ("paullatim tempore procedente") it obtained authority. Jerome's assertion may arise from the fact that there were several persons named James, and that confusion on this point was one means of throwing doubt on the epistle. There seems to be also an allusion in Hippolytus (ed. Lagrarde, p. 122) to 2, 13, in the words γὰρκρίσις ἀνίλεώς ἐστι τῷ μὴ ποιήσαντι ἔλεος.

It was at length received by the Council of Carthage in 397, and in that century it seems to have been all but universally acknowledged, both by the Eastern and Western churches-Theodore of Mopsuestia. being a marked exception, because of the allusion in it (5, 11) to the book of Job. At the period of the Reformation its genuineness was again called in question. Luther, in his preface to the N.T. in 1522, comparing it "with the best books of the N.T.," stigmatized it as "a right strawy epistle (eine recht stroherne Pistel), being destitute of an evangelic character." Cyril Lucar had a similar objection, that Christ's name was coldly mentioned, and that only once or twice, and that it treated merely of morality-("sole a ia moralita attende" Lettres Anecdotes, p. 85, Amsterdam, 1718). Erasmus had doubts about it, and so had cardinal Cajetan, Flacius, and the Magdeburg centuriators. Grotius and Wetstein shared in these doubts, and they are followed by Schleiermacher, Schott, De Wette, Reuss, the Tü bingen critics Baur and Schwegler, and Ritschl in his Entstehuny der Alt-kathol. Kirchle, p. 150. These recent critics deny its apostolic source, and some of them place it in the 2nd century, from its resemblance in some parts to the Clementine homilies. But it is plain that the objections of almost all these opponents spring mainly from doctrinal and not from critical views, being rather originated and sustained by the notion formed of the contents of the epistle than resting on any proper historical foundation. We have not space to go over the several objections, such as the absence of the term apostle from the inscription, though this is likewise not found in several of Paul's epistles; the want of individuality in the document, though this may easily be accounted for by the circumstances of the author in relation to his readers; and the apparent antagonism to the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, which we shall afterwards consider.

It is of no avail to object, with Wetstein and Theile, that James refers to the apocryphal writings, a practice unknown till a later period, for Theile's array of passages (Prolegomena, p. 46) does not prove the statement, as Huther's reply to this and other similar objections has shown at length, and step by step. Nor, lastly, can it be said that the Greek style of the epistle betrays a culture which the author could not possess. The style is nervous, indeed, and is more Hebraistic in its general structure than in its individual phrases, as in its short and pithy clauses, the absence of logical formula, the want of elaborate constructions, its oratorical fervor, and the simple and direct outflow of thoughts in brief and often parallelistic clauses. Intercourse with foreign Jews must have been frequent in those days, and there are always minds which, from natural propensity, are more apt than others to acquire a tasteful facility in the use of a tongue which has not been their vernacular. Taking all these things into account, we have every reason to accept the canonical authority of this epistle, the trial it has passed through giving us fuller confidence in it, since the principal objections are the offspring either of polemical prejudice, or of a subjective criticism based more on esthetic tendencies than historical results. Ranch has faintly objected to the integrity of the epistle, asserting that the conclusion of 5, 12-20, may be an interpolation, because it is not in logical harmony with what precedes; but he has had no followers, and Kern, Theile, Schneckenburger, and others have refuted him-logical sequence being a form of critical argument wholly inapplicable to this epistle. (See Davidson, Introd. to N.T. 3, 331 sq.) (See ANTILEGOMIENA).

III. The Persons for whom the Epistle is intended. The, salutation is addressed "to the Twelve Tribes which are scattered abroad" (ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾶ '/ ). They were Jews, ἀδελφοί - brethren or believing Jews, and they lived beyond Palestine, or in the Dispersion. Such are the plain characteristics, national and religious, of the persons addressed. There are, however, two extremes of religious opinion about them. Some, as Lardner, Macknight, Theile, Credner, and Hus, imagine that the epistle is meant for all Jews. But the inscription forbids such a supposition. The tone of the epistle implies that "the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ" addressed fellow-believers'-" brethren" "begotten" along with himself (ἡμᾶς ) "by the word of truth," and all of them bearing the "good name" (καλὸν ὄνομα ). The first verse of the second chapter implies also that they held "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory," and they are exhorted not to hold it inconsistently, along with manifest respect of persons, or showing unfounded social preferences. They are told besides, in James 5:7, to exercise patience, ἕως τῆς παρου σίαγ τοῦ Κυρίου, till the public promised advent of the Lord their Savior. The rich men denounced in James 5:1 may not have belonged to the Church in reality, but this startling denunciation carried in it warning to them and comfort to the poor and persecuted. May there not be, in a letter to a church, holy invective against those without it, who annoy and oppress its unresisting members? Dean Alford, after Huther, inclines to include in the διασπορά Jews also in Palestine Judeea being regarded as the center. He refers to the phrase, Acts 8:1 (πάντες δὲ διεσπάρησαν κατὰ τὰς χώρας τῆς Ι᾿ουδαίας καὶ Σαμαπείας ). But the use of the verb here in its general sense and in an easy narrative cannot modify the popular meaning of διασπορά as the technical or geographic title of Jews beyond Palestine.

On the other hand, it has been maintained by Kister (Studien u. Kritiken, 1831), Kern, Neudecker, and De Wette, that the title in the inscription is a symbolic one, and signifies simply Christians out of Palestine, as the true Israel of God. A modification of this view is held by others, viz., that while the epistle is addressed to believing Jews, believing heathen and unconverted Jews are not excluded. But the phrase in the inscription, as in Acts 26:7, is to be taken in its natural sense, and with no spiritualized meaning or reference. The entire tone and aspect also are Jewish. The place of ecclesiastical meeting is συναγωγή ; the law, νόμος, is of supreme authority. The divine unity is a primary and distinctive article of faith, the ordinary terms of Jewish obtestation are introduced, as is also the prophetic epithet symbolizing spiritual unfaithfulness, μοιχαλίδες (James 4:4).

Anointing with oil is mentioned, and the special regard to be paid (James 1:27) to orphans and widows finds its basis in repeated statutes of the Mosaic law. The errors refuted also are such as naturally arose out of Pharisaic pride and formalism, and the acceptance of the promised Christ in a spirit of traditional carnality. The fact that the Dispersion was found principally in the East-that is, in Syria and adjacent countries-countenances the presumption that this epistle is found in the Peshito at so early, period because it had immediate circulation in that region, and there had proved the fitness and usefulness of its counsels and warning. Josephus says of the Dispersion, that the Jews were scattered everywhere, πλεῖστον δὲ τῇ Συρίᾷ ἀναμεμιγμένον (y War, 7:3, 3). The persons addressed were poor; the rich were their persecutors, their own partialities and preferences were worldly and inconsistent; they wanted perfect confidence in God, and stumbled at the divine dispensations; sins of the tongue were common, eagerness to be public teachers was an epidemic among them; they spoke rashly and hardly of one another; and they felt not the connection between a living faith and a holy life. Society was under a process of apparent disintegration, wars and fightings were frequent, with loss of life and property. Its extremes were the rich and the poor, with no middle class between; for, though tradings and journeyings quite in Jewish style are referred to (James 4:13-14), the principal occupation was husbandry, with no social grade between those who owned and those who reaped the fields. (See DISPERSION).

IV. Time and place of writing the Epistle. The place most probably was Jerusalem, where James had his residence. Many allusions in the epistle, while they apply to almost any Eastern locality, carry in them a presumption in favor of that country, in the metropolis of which James is known to have lived and labored. These allusions are to such natural phenomena as parching winds, James 4:1-11; long drought, James 5:17-18; the early and latter rain, James 5:7; saline springs, James 3:12; proximity to the sea, James 1:6; James 3:4 (Hug's Einleitung, 2, 439). Naturally from the holy capital of Judaea goes forth from the "servant of the Lord Jesus Christ" a solemn circular to all the believing brethren in the Dispersion-for to them James was a living authority to which they bowed, and Jerusalem a holy center that stirred a thousand loyal associations within them.

It is not so easy to determine the time at which the epistle was written. Many place the date about the year 60-close on the martyrdom of James the Just, not long before the destruction of Jerusalem-as Michaelis, Pearson, Mill, Guericle, Burton, Macknight, Bleek (Einleit. p. 547, 1862), and the older commentators generally. Hug and De Wette place it after the Epistle to the Hebrews to which they imagine it contains some allusions- Hug holding that it was written (ü berlegt) on set purpose against Paul and his doctrine of justification by faith. So also Baur (Paulus, p. 677). But these reasons are by no means conclusive. The great argument that the Epistle of James was written to oppose either the doctrine or counteract the abuses of the doctrine of justification by faith has, as we shall see, no foundation. The notion that this epistle is in some sense corrective in its tone and purpose appears plausible to us, as Paul is so usually read by us before James that we gain an earlier acquaintance with him, while James occupies also a later place in the ordinary arrangement of the books of the New Testament.

But it is claimed by many that the state of the Judaeo-Christians addressed in the epistle is not that which we know to have existed at and before the year 60. There is no allusion to the fierce disputations as to the value and permanence of circumcision, the authority and meaning of the ceremonial law, or the conditions on which Gentile converts should be admitted into the Church-the questions discussed at the Council of Jerusalem. Controversies on these points, it is asserted, saturated the Church during many years before the fall of Jerusalem, and no one could address Jewish converts at any length without some allusion to them. The myriads who believed, as James said, were "all zealous of the law" (Acts 21:20); and that zeal assumed so many false shapes, threw up so many barriers in the way of' ecclesiastical relationship, nay, occasionally so infringed on the unconditioned freeness of the Gospel as to rob it of its simplicity and power, that no Jew addressing Jewish believers with the authority and from the position of James could fail to dwell on those disturbing and engrossing peculiarities. The inference, therefore, on the part of many critics, is, that the epistle was written prior to those keen and universal discussions, and to that state of the Church which gave them origin and continuance; prior, therefore, also to the time when the labors of the apostle-Paul among the Gentiles called such attention to their success that "certain from James came down" to Antioch to examine for themselves and carry back a report to the another Church in Jerusalem (Acts 15; Galatians 2). The epistle, on this view, might be written shortly before the Council of Jerusalem- probably about the year 45. Such is the opinion of Neander, Schneckenburger, Theile, Thiersch, Huther, Davidson, and Alford.

On the other hand, Wiesinger and Bleek justly object that the interval supposed is too limited for such a growth of Christianity as this epistle implies. Moreover, although the argument in favor of an early date, drawn from the supposed design of counteracting the misinterpretation of some of Paul's doctrines (comp. 2 Peter 3:16), is scarcely tenable. yet the epistle manifestly presupposes such a, general intelligence of Gospel terms and truth as could hardly have obtained, especially abroad, so early as prior to the first council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). Indeed, many of the above arguments in favor of this very early date are self-contradictory; for it was precisely at this period that the disputes and controversies in question raged most fiercely, not having yet been authoritatively determined by any ecclesiastical consultation (comp. Paul's strong contention with Peter and Barnabas); whereas the official edict of that council precluded any further public discussion. In this respect the Epistle of James will fairly compare with that to the Hebrews, written about the same time. The reasoning, however, may be allowed to hold good against so late a date as immediately preceding Jerusalem's fall (so Macknight infers from James 5:1); for at that time the old controversy appears to have been somewhat revived. De Wette adduces the allusion to the name "Christians" in James 2:7, as an evidence in favor of the late date; but this would only require a date later than that of Acts 11:26. On the whole, the evidence decidedly preponderates in favor of the interval between Paul's two imprisonments at Rome, or about A.D. 62.

V. Object of Writing. The main design of the epistle is not to teach doctrine, but to improve morality. James is the moral teacher of the N. Test.; not in such sense a moral teacher as not to be at the same time a maintainer and teacher of Christian doctrine, but yet mainly in this epistle a moral teacher. There are two ways of explaining this characteristic of the epistle. Some commentators and writers see in James a man who had not realized the essential principles and peculiarities of Christianity, but was in a transition state, half Jew and half Christian. Schneckenburger thinks that Christianity had not penetrated his spiritual life. Neander is of much the same opinion (Panzung und Leitung, p. 579). The same notion may perhaps be traced in Prof. Stanley and dean Alford. But there is another and much more natural way of accounting for the fact. James was writing for a special class of persons, and knew what that class especially needed; and therefore, under the guidance of God's Spirit, he adapted his instructions to their capacities and wants. Those for whom he wrote were, as we have said, the Jewish Christians, whether in Jerusalem or abroad. James, living in the center of Judaism, saw what were the chief sins and vices of his countrymen, and, fearing that his flock might share in them, he lifted up his voice to warn them against the contagion from which they not only might, but did in part suffer. This was his main object; but there is another closely connected with it. As Christians, his readers were exposed to trials which they did not bear with the patience and faith that would have become them. Here, then, are the two objects of the epistle: 1. To warn against the sins to which, as Jews, they were most liable. 2. To console and exhort them under the sufferings to which, as Christians, they were most exposed. The warnings and consolations are mixed together, for the writer does not seem to have set himself down to compose an essay or a letter of which he had previously arranged the heads; but, like one of the old prophets, to have poured out what was uppermost in his thoughts, or closest to his heart, without waiting to connect his matter, or to throw bridges across from subject to subject. While, in the purity of his Greek and the vigor of his thoughts, we mark a man of education, in the abruptness of his transitions and the unpolished roughness of his style we may trace one of the family of the Davideans, who disarmed Domitian by the simplicity of their minds, and by exhibiting their hands hard with toil (Hegesippus apud Euseb. 3, 20.

The Jewish vices against which he warns them are formalism, which made the service (θρησκεία ) of God consist in washings and outward ceremonies, whereas he reminds them (James 1:27) that it consists rather in active love and purity (see Coleridge's Aids to Reflection, Aph. 23; note also active love Bp. Butler's "benevolence," and purity = Bp. Butler's "temperance"); fanaticism, which, under the cloak of religious zeal, was tearing Jerusalem to pieces (James 1:20); fatalism, which threw its sins on God (James 1:13); meanness, which crouched before the rich (James 2:2); falsehood, which had made words and oaths playthings (James 3:2-12); partisanship (James 3:14); evil speaking (James 4:11); boasting (James 4:16); oppression (James 5:4). The great lesson which he teaches them, as Christians, is patience-patience in trial (James 1:2); patience in good works (James 1:22-25); patience under provocations (James 3:17);' patience under oppression (James 5:7); patience, under persecution (James 5:10); and the ground of their patience is, that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, which is to right all wrongs (James 5:8).

VI. There are two points in the epistle which demand a somewhat more lengthened notice. These are,

(a) James 2:14-26, which has been represented as a formal opposition to Paul's doctrine of justification by faith; and

(b) James 5:14-15, which is quoted as the authority for the sacrament of extreme unction.

(a) Justification being an act, not of man, but of God, both the phrases "justification by faith" and "justification by works" are inexact. Justification must either be by grace or of reward. Therefore our question is, Did or did not James hold justification by grace? If he did, there is no contradiction between the apostles. Now there is not one word in James to the effect that a man can earn his justification by works; and this would be necessary in order to prove that he held justification of reward. Still Paul does use the expression "justified by faith" (Romans 5:1), and James the expression "justified by works, not by faith only." Here is an apparent opposition. But, if we consider the meaning of the two apostles, we see at once that there is no contradiction either intended or possible. Paul was opposing the Judaizing party, which claimed to earn acceptance by good works, whether the works of the Mosaic law, or works of piety done by themselves. In opposition to these, Paul lays down the great truth that acceptance cannot be earned by man at all, but is the free gift of God to the Christian man, for the sake of the merits of Jesus Christ, appropriated by each individual, and made his own by the instrumentality of faith. James, on the other hand, was opposing the old Jewish tenet that to be a child of Abraham was all in all; that godliness was not necessary, if but the belief was correct. This presumptuous confidence had transferred itself, with perhaps double force, to the Christianized Jews. They had said, "Lord, Lord," and that was enough, without doing his Father's will. They had recognized the Messiah: what more was wanted? They had faith: what more was required of them? It is plain that their "faith" was a totally different thing from the "faith" of Paul. Paul tells us again and again that his "faith" is a "faith that worketh by love;" but the very characteristic of the "faith" which James is attacking, and the very reason why he attacked it, was that it did not work by love, but was a bare assent of the head, not influencing the heart; a faith such as devils can have, and tremble. James tells us that "fides informis" is not sufficient on the part of man for justification; Paul tells us that "Jidesformata" is sufficient: and the reason why fides informis will not justify us is, according to James, because it lacks that special quality, the addition of which constitutes itsfidesfo-mata. See, on this subject, Bull's Harmonia Apostolica et Examen Censurae; Taylor's Sermon on "Faith working by Love," 8, 284 (Lond. 1850); and, as a corrective of Bull's view, Laurence's Bampton Lectures, 4:5, 6. Other discussions may be found in Knapp, Scripta, p. 511; Reuss, Theologie, 2, 524; Hofmann, Schrifibeweis, 1, 639; Wardlaw's Sermons; Wood's Theology, 2. 408; Watson's Institutes, 2, 614; Lechler, Das Apostol. und nachapostolische Zeitalter, p. 163. For monographs, see Walch, Biblische Theologie, 4:941; Danz, Wö rterbuch, s.v. Jacobus. (See JUSTIFICATION); (See FAITH).

(b) With respect to James 5:14-15, it is enough to say that the ceremony of extreme unction and the ceremony described by James differ both in their subject and in their object. The subject of extreme unction is a sick man who is about to die, and its object is not his cure. The subject of the ceremony described by James is a sick man who is not about to die, and its object is his cure, together With the spiritual benefit of absolution. James is plainly giving directions with respect to the manner of administering one of those extraordinary gifts of the Spirit with which the Church was endowed only in the apostolic age and the age immediately succeeding the apostles.

VII. Contents. The errors and sins against which James warns his readers are such as arose out of their situation. Perfection - τελείοτης is a prominent idea, and τέλειος is a frequent epithet-the "perfect work" of patience, the " perfect" gift of God, the "perfect law" of liberty or the new covenant, faith "made perfect," and the tongue-governing man is a "perfect man." He' writes from a knowledge of their circumstances, does not set before them an ethical system for their leisurely study, but selects the vices of opinion and life to which their circumstances so markedly and so naturally exposed them. Patience is a primary inculcation, it being essential to that perfection which is his central thought. Trials develop patience, and such evils as produce trials are not to be ascribed in a spirit of fatalism to God. Spiritual life is enjoyed by believers, and is fostered by the reception, and especially by the doing of the word; and true religious service is unworldly and disinterested beneficence. Partial preferences are forbidden by the royal law-faith without works is dead-tongue and temper are to be under special guard, and under the control of wisdom-the deceits of casuistry are to be eschewed contentious covetousness is to be avoided as one of the works of the devil, along with censorious pride. Rich oppressors are denounced, and patience is enjoined on all; the fitting exercises in times of gladness and of sickness are prescribed; the efficacy of prayer is extolled and exemplified; while the conclusion animates his readers to do for others what he has been doing for them-to convert them "from the error of their way" (see Stanley's Sermons and Essays on the Apostolic Age, p. 297).

The epistle contains no allusion to the cardinal doctrines of Christianity, though they are implied. It was not the writer's object either to discuss or defend them. It would be unwarranted, on that account, to say that Christianity had not penetrated his own spiritual life, or that he was only in a transition state between Judaism and Christianity. He might not, indeed, have the free and unnational views of Paul in presenting the Gospel. But a true Christianity is implied, and his immediate work lay in enforcing certain Christian duties, which he does in the style of the Master himself VIII. Style and Language. The similarity of this epistle in tone and form to the Sermon on the Mount has often been remarked. In the spirit of the Great Teacher, he sharply reprobates all externalism, all selfishness, inconsistency, worldliness, ostentation, self-deception, and hypocrisy. Thus in the first chapter as a sample. comp. James 1:2, Matthew 5:10-12; James 1:4, Matthew 5:48; James 1:5, Matthew 7:7; James 1:9, Matthew 5:3; James 1:20, Matthew 5:22, etc. The epistle, in short, is a long and earnest illustration of the final warning given by our Lord in the figures of building on the rock and building on the sand. The composition is the abrupt and stern utterance of an earnest, practical soul - a rapid series of censures and counsels-not entirely disconnected, but generally suggested by some inner link of association. Often a general law is epigrammatically laid down, while a peculiar sin is reprobated or a peculiar virtue enforced-or a principle is announced in the application of it. The style is vigorous-full of imperatives so solemn and categorical as to dispel all idea of resistance or compromise, and of interrogations so pointed that they carry their answer with them. It is also marked by epithets so bold and forcible that they give freshness and color to the diction. The clauses have a rhetorical beauty and power, and as in men of fervent oratorical temperament, the words often fall into rhythmical order, while the thoughts occasionally blossom into poetry. An accidental hexameter is found in James 1:17 [provided it be lawful to make the last syllable of δόσις long].

The Greek is remarkably pure, and, it is difficult to account for this comparative purity. Hegesippus, as quoted by Eusebius, says that James's believing brethren desired him to address the crowds assembled at the Passover; for there were brought together "all the ribres, with also the Gentiles" πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαι μετὰ καὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν ; and Greek must have been the language employed. It is therefore quite preposterous on the part of Bolten, Betholdt, and Schott to suspect that the Greek of this epistle is a translation from an Aramean original.

Resemblances have sometimes been traced between this epistle and the first Epistle of Peter, and these may be accounted for by the fact that both authors were somewhat similarly circumstanced in relation to their readers. But Hug's and Bleek's inference is a rash one that Peter must have read the epistle of James. In a word, the Epistle of James is a noble protest against laxity of morals- against supine and easy acquiescence in the truths of the Gospel without feeling their power or acting under their influence, while it presents such ethical lessons as the Church, placed in multiple relations to a world of sense and trial, has ever need of to animate and sustain it in its progress towards perfection.

IX. Commentaries. The following are the exegetical treatises expressly on the whole epistle; to a few of the most important we prefix an asterisk (*): Didemus Alexandrinus, In Ep. Jacobi (in Bibl. Max. Pair. 5, 320); Althamer. Auslegung (Arg. 1527, 8vo); Zuingle, Adnotationes (Tigur. 1533. 8vo; also in Opp. 4:534); Foleng, Commentarius (Lugdun. 1555, 8vo); Logenhagen, Adnotationes (Antw. 1571, 8vo; 1572,12mo); Heminge, Commentary (London, 1577, 4to); Feuardent, Commentarius (Paris, 1599, 8vo); Rung, Commentarius (Wittenb. 1600, 8vo); Bracche, Commentarius (Paris, 1605, 4to); Turnbull, Lectures (Lond. 1606, 4to); Winckelmann, Explicatio (Giess. 1608, 8vo).; Steuart, Commentarius (Ingolst. 1610, 4to); Paez, Commentaria (Antwerp, 1617, 1623; Lugd. 1620, 4to); Lorin, Commentarius [includ. Jude] (Mogunt. 1622; Colon. 1633, fol.); Wolzogen, Annotationes (in Opp.); Laurent, Commentarius (Amst. 1635,1662, 4to); Kerner, Predigten (Ulm, 1639, 8vo); Mayer, Exposition (London, 1639; 4to); Price, Commentarii (Lond. 1646, fol.; also in the Crit. Sacri); *Manton, Commentary (London, 1653, 4to; 1840,1842, 1844, 8vo); Brochmand, Commentarius (Hafn. 1641, 1706, 4to; Frankfurt, 1658, fol.); Schmidt, Disputationes [includ. Ephes. etc.] (Argent. 1685, 1699, 4to); Creid, Predigten (Frankf. 1694, 8vo); Smith, Vitbreiding (Amst. 1698, 4to); Creyghton, Verklaaring [includ. John's ep.] (Franck. 1704, 4to); Griebner, Predigten (Lpz. 1720, 8vo); Grammlich, Anmerk. (Stuttgart, 1721, 8vo); Michaelis, Introductio (Hal. 1722, 4to); Benson, Paraphrase (Lond. 1738, 4to; with the other Cath. ep. ib. 1749,1756, 4to; in Latin, Hal. 1747, 4to); Heisen, Dissertationes (Brem. 1739, 4to); Janson, Verklaar. (Gron. 1742,4to); Damm, Anmerk. (Berl. 1747, 8vo); Baumgarten, Auslegung (Hal. 1750, 4to); Semler, Paraphrasis (Hal. 1781; in Germ. Potsdam. 1789); Storr, Dissertationes (Tü b. 1784, 4to; also in his Opusc. Acad. 2, 1-74); E. F. K. Rosenmü ller, Anmerk. (Leipzig, 1787, 8vo); Morus, Praelectiones [including Pet.] (Lips. 1794, 8vo); Goltz, Verklaaring (Amster. 1798, 4to); Scherer, Erklar. (vol. 1, Marb. 1799, 8vo); Antonio, Ferklaaringe (Leyd. 1799, 4to); Hensler, Erldut. (Hamb. 1801, 8vo); Clarisse, Bearbeid. (Amst. 1802, 8vo); Stuart, Verklaar. (Amst. 1806, 8vo); Van Kosten, Verklaaring (Amst. 1821, 8vo); *Schulthess, Commentar. (Turici, 1824, 8vo); Gebser, Erklar. (Berl. 1828, 8vo); *Schneckenburger, A nnot. (Stuttg. 1832, 8vo); *Theile, Comm7entar. (Lipsie, 1833, 8vo); Jacobi, Predigten (Berl. 1835, 8vo; tr. by Rvland, I.ondon, 1838, 8vo); Kern, Erklarung (Tilb. 1838, 8vo); Scharling, Commentarius [including Jude] (Havn. 1840. 8vo); *Stier, Auslegung (Barmen, 1845, 8vo); Cellerier, Commentaire (Par. 1850, 8vo); Stanley, Sermons (in Sermons and Essays, p. 291); *Neander, Erlauter. (Berlin, 1850, 8vo, being vol. 6 of his edu of the Heilige Schrift.; tro by Mrs. Conant, N.Y. 1852, 12mo); Draseke, Predigten (Lpz. 1851, 8vo); Patterson, Commentary (in the Jour. of Sac. Lit. Oct. 1851, p. 250 sql); *Wiesinger, Commentar (Konigs. 1854, 8vo; being vol. 6 of Olshausen's Commentary); Viedebrandt, Bibelstunden (Berl. 1859, 8vo); Porubszky, Predirlten (Vienna, 1861,8vo); Wardlaw, Lecturen (London, 1862, 12mo); Hermann [edit. Bouman], Commentarius (Tr. ad Rh. 1865, 8vo); *Adam, Discourses (Edinb. 1867, 8vo); Ewald, Erklarung [includ. Heb.] (Gbtt. 1870, 8vo). (See EPISTLE).

James, Spurious Writings Of.

The following pseudepigraphal works have been attributed-to the apostle James:

1. The Protevangelium.

2. Historia de Nativitate Avarice.

3. De miraculis infantice Domini nostri,',etc.

Of these, the Protevangelium. is worth a passing notice, not for its contents, which are a mere parody on the early chapters of Luke, transferring the events which occurred at our Lord's birth to the birth of Mary his mother, but because it appears to have been early known in the Church. It is possible that Justin Martyr (Dial. cum Tryph. c. 70, 8) and Clement of Alexandria (Stomata, uib. 8) refer to it. Origen speaks of it (in Matthew 13:55); Gregory Nyssen (Opp. p. 346, edit. Paris), Epiphanius (Haer. 79), John Damascene (Orat. 1, 2, in Nativ. Marice), Photius (Orat. in Nativ. Marice), and others, allude to it. It was first published in Latin in 1552, in Greek in 1564. The oldest MS. of it now existing is of the 10th century. (See Thilo's Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, 1, 45, 108, 159, 337, Lips. 1852.) (See APOCRYPHA).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'James, Epistle of'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, February 18th, 2019
the Sixth Week after Epiphany
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

Prev Entry
James of Edessa, Etc.
Next Entry
James, John
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology