Ryan Donald Wettlaufer deals with James 1.1 and 2.1 in chapter 7 of No Longer Written: The Use of Conjectural Emendation in the Restoration of the Text of the New Testament.
Of James 1.1 Wettlaufer writes:
Wettlaufer has presented the textual evidence here rather confusingly, and I may not have gotten all of the following correct. But the main variants are:
Of James 2.1 Wettlaufer writes:
He presents this textual evidence far more clearly:
But Wettlaufer does not actually think that this conjectural emendation (the removal of both references to Jesus Christ) is the best solution to the problem(s).
First, after noting that some exegetes rely upon the lack of Christian themes in the epistle as a support for the conjecture, he argues that hard and fast distinctions between Jews and Christians are anachronistic for our time period.
Second, he goes on to note that (A) the dialectic with Pauline theology in 2.14-26 and (B) the overlap of sayings between James and the synoptic sayings tradition both mark James as essentially a Christian epistle.
Third, and finally, he deals with the issue of the lack of Christian theology in the letter:
Wettlaufer then discusses Allison's proposal more fully. Basically, Allison proposes that the epistle was written by a Jewish Christian but addressed both to Christian Jews and to Jews who are not Christians in a sort of intramural effort to bridge the divide. Allison retains all of 1.1, but conjecturally emends 2.1 so as to get rid of ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, since, in the kind of epistle Allison is imagining, to call Jesus the "Lord of glory" would be problematic, as that title applies (within Judaism) to God the Father:
(In this context, 1 Corinthians 2.9 is a quirk, a possible explanation of which I have offered elsewhere. But this Pauline epistle is also not written principally to a Jewish readership. Incidentally, Ephesians 1.17 has "Father of glory.")
Allison's proposal is that ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ got added to 2.1 by way of what is sometimes called "title creep," that is, the tendency of some scribes to add titles to a name in the text before them. For example, a scribe may find "Jesus" in the text, and then add "Christ," after which a later scribe adds "Lord," with the result that the text now reads, "Lord Jesus Christ."
Wettlaufer disarms this hypothesis by pointing out, with the help of some statistical counts, that "title creep" was not as common as sometimes thought, and especially in the middle of the titular phrase, as this case would require. He further points out that "the faith of the Lord of glory" is unattested in relevant texts, while "the faith of Jesus Christ" is well attested.
So Wettlaufer concludes that, awkward though both verses may be, neither ought to be conjecturally emended so as to eliminate its reference to Jesus.
I am going to state right at the outset here that Wettlaufer may be right. We are dealing with tenuous probabilities here. On the one hand, his entire book is one extended argument for the occasional necessity of conjectural emendation, even in New Testament books, since the only factor driving such a necessity is, not the number of extant manuscripts, but rather the distance between the original text and the archetype; he also argues for conjectural emendations in James 3.1, 4.2, and 4.5. On the other hand, he has given solid reasons to reject various arguments for making the conjectural emendations sometimes sought for James 1.1 and 2.1.
However, while he acknowledges that there are only three valid options (authorial originality, editorial insertion, or scribal tampering such as "title creep" or some similarly scribal phenomenon), he argues for authorial originality against scribal tampering; he does not have a lot to say about editorial insertion.
I, therefore, intend to mount an argument for editorial insertion. I will not pretend that it is necessarily stronger than Wettlaufer's arguments, but it may be strong enough to present a viable alternative. My thesis will be that the epistle originally lacked any reference at all to Jesus and that its author was not a Christian by my definition (see below), but was rather a putative member of the kind of sectarian Jewish group from which Christianity originally emerged.
First, I agree with Wettlaufer that the line between Judaism and Christianity in the period under consideration is often drawn too thickly. My own impressions of Judaism at this time is one involving (among many other things) various sects, some of them messianic, from which Christianity could, with a hop and a jump, develop as a fairly natural extension. A messianic sect which speculated about the coming, perhaps imminent, of the promised messiah figure would turn into a form of Christianity just as soon as it began to think that the messiah had already arrived, whether any other differences had even begun to surface or any questions such as what to do about gentiles had even begun to be answered. That, for me, is the only true difference that makes a difference between Judaism and Christianity; the Jew says that the messiah, if there is one at all, is yet to come in the future, while a Christian says that the messiah has already come in the present or even in the past.
Second, however, for my purposes here I am going to disagree that the dialectic with Pauline theology in 2.14-26, if such it is, and the overlap of sayings between James and the synoptic sayings tradition both make James an essentially Christian epistle.
James is, for one thing, dissenting from what is commonly taken to be Pauline theology:
Now, it is quite possible, based on what James is counting as "works" in verses 15-16 and on the fact that Paul seems to be thinking specifically of works of the Law, that there is some misunderstanding going on here. Nevertheless, even if that is the case, it is allowed for a sectarian to criticize the doctrines of someone from a subsect, as it were. I am reminded of how, as a child being reared in an evangelical Christian environment, I was frequently taught the error of the ways of the Mormons (for example). Those errors did not stop with the extra sets of scripture the Mormons use or the weird customs they have added to the evangelical Christian faith; they also extended to the whole issue of works and faith, not to mention other doctrinal matters. In my background, to say that salvation had anything to do with works was just wrong, wrong, wrong, and one of the most frequent criticisms leveled at the Mormons and other subreligions (like the Jehovah's Witnesses) was that their adherents were relying upon works: the exact inverse of the potential situation in James 2.14-26, wherein James is concerned that some people (who sound like followers of Paul) are relying on faith alone and eschewing works. Therefore, just because James is criticizing Pauline theology (assuming for the sake of argument that this is what he is doing) does not make James a Christian, any more than an evangelical Christian criticizing Mormon theology makes him or her a Mormon.
In fact, if hard and fast distinctions between Jews and Christians are anachronistic for our time period, as Wettlaufer alleges, then any attempt to distinguish this epistle as Christian instead of Jewish must seem a bit anachronistic, as well. Paul and James may well simply be two Jews disagreeing on matters which would separate Christians from Jews only later.
As for the overlap of sayings between James and the synoptic tradition, I readily grant that those overlaps are there by the boatload to be examined. If we assume that Jesus uttered those sayings, as the gospels depict him doing, then James got them either directly or indirectly from Jesus and is, in some sense, following Jesus. That is not exactly the same thing as being a Christian yet, by my definition, but it would certainly go a long way toward confirming James as a Christian, since one very good reason to treat Jesus' sayings as authoritative would be that one feels Jesus to be the Christ. One could point out that most other people who treated Jesus' sayings as authoritative were Christians; therefore, James is also probably a Christian.
The option I would like to leave open, however, cuts through all of this in a very different way. James nowhere attributes the sayings to Jesus (not that he has to do so in order to prove their origin, but it is an observation). What if they are, in fact, Jacobian sayings instead, sayings which have been placed on Jesus' lips in the gospels, but which were originally the teachings of James? Alternately, but similarly, perhaps Jesus did utter them, but he himself got them from James. I do not think that this option is necessarily any better or more provable than the traditional option (that Jesus uttered the sayings and then James, or whoever wrote the epistle in his name, took them as his own); but I do not think it is any worse or less provable, either.
Peter Kirby and I have discussed other potentially Christian attributes of this epistle in a previous thread. My question both here and there is how easy it is to tell whether a feature of an epistle is distinctively Christian or simply part of the branch(es) of Judaism from which Christianity emerged. I would observe that a lot of aspects of Christianity seemed distinctively Christian before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; on the other hand, this observation is no guarantee that aspects of Christianity still unattested for Judaism are certain to be discovered at some point. This entire line of inquiry ought to be further explored.
Third, I tentatively accept Wennlaufer's arguments against "title creep" or other scribal phenomena as an explanation for the awkwardness of James 2.1. However, I do not agree with the conclusion he reaches from the fact that "the faith of the Lord of glory" is unattested elsewhere, while "the faith of Jesus Christ" is well attested. This fact is a natural consequence of the title "Lord of glory" being relatively rare. Once admit, however, that Lord of glory = God (the Father), all one has to do is switch out the two terms (God for Lord of glory). It does not matter whether the exact result ("faith of the Lord of glory") is found elsewhere as a distinct phrase; it is a viable phrase, to be employed as frequently or as infrequently as the collective of ancient authorship desires.
The phrase τὴν πίστιν τοῦ θεοῦ appears in Romans 3.3, where the genitive is probably subjective. The phrase πίστιν θεοῦ appears in Mark 11.22, where the genitive is probably objective. If these Christian authors, for whom Jesus was the main object and possibly subject of faith(fulness), can write of the faith(fulness) of God, then surely James can, too, especially under the circumstances of my thesis that he was not a Christian, but rather a sectarian Jew, even if he replaces "God" with "the Lord of glory." Also, 4 Maccabees 15.24 has τὴν πρὸς θεὸν πίστιν and 4 Maccabees 16.22 has τὴν αὐτὴν πίστιν πρὸς τὸν θεὸν, both of which phrases are semantically the same as (though grammatically different from) what we find in James 2.1.
One thing that piques my curiosity is precisely the difference between James and other Christian epistles so far as the use of "Jesus" is concerned. 3 John has no instances of this name, but it seems addressed to a specific occasion calling for pastoral concern, and it is only one chapter long, whereas James is five chapters long. All of the other New Testament epistles, however, seem to use "Jesus" quite frequently.
- Philemon, only one chapter long, has it no fewer than six times; four of those times it is joined with "Christ", but then there are three additional instances of "Christ" on their own, as well.
- Hebrews distracts itself with long, detailed expositions of Jewish ritual practice, yet still manages to use the name at the rate of once per chapter, as well as using "Christ" twelve times, only three of which overlap with "Jesus" (to make "Jesus Christ").
- 1 Peter has five chapters, just like James, and has eight mentions of Jesus. Some of those mentions are joined with "Christ", but then there are 13 separate uses of Christ on its own.
- 2 Peter has the same number of "Jesus" mentions as 1 Peter, some of which add "Christ", but with only three chapters.
- 2 John has as many mentions of "Jesus" (both of them paired with "Christ") as James, plus an additional "Christ" on its own, but only one chapter.
- Jude, only one chapter long, has six instances of "Jesus Christ".
But, at the same time that the number of instances of "Jesus" in this epistle are proportionally very few, they are also syntactically awkward in the ways described by Wennlaufer, who never actually disposes of the awkwardness; rather, he gives us reasons to live with it (and, again, he may well be right).
Furthermore, one may as well point out that the title at issue, "the Lord of glory," is attested for Jesus, among texts which may thought even remotely contemporaneous with the epistle of James, only at 1 Corinthians 2.9. While 1 Corinthians 2.9 proves that an early Christian can call Jesus "the Lord of glory," the fact that it is Paul (or possibly pseudo-Paul) who calls him this, while hardly making it improbable on its own that James would do the same, does not necessarily inspire confidence that James would do it, either. More importantly, the entire question of titles in this epistle opens up. James 1.27 refers to God the Father as τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρι ("the God and Father"); but James 3.9 refers to him as τὸν κύριον καὶ πατέρα ("the Lord and Father"). Does this correspondence not suggest that both "Lord" and "God" are titles for the Father in this epistle? Would a writer mix up these titles so confusingly, to the point where it is impossible to tell whether the Father or the Son is being referred to, in an epistle addressed to Jews of the Diaspora in general (1.1)? How would the reader be expected to know which person is being talked about? If, however, "Lord" belongs to God the Father in this epistle, as per 3.9, then the entirety of the rest of the epistle, with the conspicuous exceptions of 1.1 and 2.1, falls in line as a distinctly Jewish text, with God being the giver in 1.7, God being the exalter in 4.10, God being the lawgiver and judge in 4.12 and 5.9, God being in charge of fate in 4.15, God hearing the cries of the oppressed in 5.4, God being the one whose future advent one is to await in 5.7-8, God being the one in whose name the prophets spoke in 5.10, and God being the recipient of prayers in 5.14-15.
To recap, then, we have Jesus Christ named awkwardly only and exactly twice (in 1.1 and 2.1) and given a title which normally applies to God, while functions reserved for Jesus in Christian texts, especially the advent (παρουσία), seem to be reserved for God the Father throughout the epistle. The overlaps with Jesus' teachings are not attributed to Jesus at any point, and the apparent contact between James and another Christian author, Paul, involves James disagreeing with Paul. I think it is plausible that this epistle originated as a purely Jewish text attributed to James, a sectarian messianist who was not actually a Christian (in the sense that he did not feel that the messiah had already come, let alone in the person of a figure named Jesus).
So why would an editor have added (quite deliberately) those two references to Jesus in 1.1 and 2.1? Well, just as Christians posthumously baptized (so to speak) John the baptist as a Christian in the gospels (whereas the historical John probably never even knew who Jesus was, if he even existed), so too Christians may well have had good reasons to make James a Christian, as well. Parallel sects sometimes claim each other's star members after the fact, often because the sects are in close competition in at least some areas. In this case, Paul's dealings with James the Pillar, according to the epistle to the Galatians, may easily have made Christians very much want to claim James as a fellow Christian. Why else would Paul have had such dealings with him? I do not at all think that the epistle of James was the original vehicle for claiming James as a Christian; I think that work was done across the board before the epistle joined in the process. The epistle, in this scenario, would have begun life as a text penned either by James or by an admirer, written expressly to Jews of the Diaspora (as stated in 1.1). Galatians 2 implies that James had influence in the Diaspora, at least as far as Antioch, so this much lines up nicely, at any rate. The sayings in this epistle which resemble sayings of Jesus in the gospels are Jacobian; they were part of James' regular teachings as a respected leader of a sect. Later on they would be stolen from him and given to Jesus. The friction between James (or at least his representatives) in Galatians 2 on the one hand and Paul and his associates on the other is at least partly reflected in the conflict over faith and works in James 2.14-26.
As a byproduct, James 1.1 and 1.2 containing interpolations of the name of Jesus allows some leeway in the dating of the epistle. If the epistle should be thought to be late, then its lateness is consonant with its late attestation, which is absent until Origen, despite the glut of Jacobian texts which flourished before Origen (an infancy gospel, Hegesippus, the gospel of the Hebrews, two apocalypses, an apocryphon, and a stunning endorsement in the gospel of Thomas). If the epistle should be thought to be early, then this late attestation would owe itself to it not being a Christian epistle for much of its life, and therefore not a good candidate for Christian usage before the interpolations were made. (But actually dating the epistle is beyond the scope of this thread.)
Again, I am by no means convinced yet of my thesis in this thread; I still fancy some variation of James and company holding to a kind of Joshua/Jesus christology, for one thing. I am merely trying to sketch out a possible way to interpret some of the scattered evidence at our disposal.