James 1.1 and 2.1.

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Ben C. Smith
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James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:08 pm

Still musing over these two verses in the epistle of James, as I have been for a while: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3061#p68290.

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:

The text of James 1:1, as found in the NA27, reads Ιάκωβος θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ χαίρειν. The problem with this text is the vagueness of the referent: does it refer to two separate substantives, i.e. "God" and "Lord Jesus Christ," or just one, i.e. "Jesus Christ" being described as both "God" and "Lord"? On one hand, such a compound reference just to Jesus Christ would not be unusual in the broader New Testament. Titus 2:13, for example, invokes the glory of τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστου (our great God and saviour Jesus Christ), while 2 Peter 1:1 refers to the righteousness of the same. In those texts, however, the compound references are governed by a single definite article which, in accordance with the Granville Sharp rule, identifies the reference as singular. James 1:1 has no such definite article. Furthermore, a compound singular in James 1:1 would result in an explicit declaration of Jesus Christ's deity that would be uncharacteristic of the epistle's otherwise subdued Christology. On the other hand, dual references typically contain additional modifi ers that clarify the referent. Romans 1:7, for example, reads θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (God our father and Lord Jesus Christ). Though the construction is otherwise identical to Jas 1:1, in that text the referent is made clear through the addition of πατρὸς, which clarifies that θεοῦ must be a reference to the father independent of the subsequent reference to Jesus Christ the son. James 1:1. however, has no such clarifying additions. Its spartan string of genitives has therefore been found by many to be vague and awkward. Consequently, it should be no surprise that numerous scribes over the years have been tangled and tripped by the verse. .... Laws summarises: "Some manuscripts seek to clarify the distinction between the two objects of service by identifying God as Father, theou patros, and Jesus as Lord (so 69, 206, 429), while some versions, in the absence of a definite article in Greek, add the qualification 'our Lord'. This recognition by scribes of an awkwardness in the text, together with the fact that the acknowledgement of two-fold service is unparalleled in the addresses of other New Testament epistles...."

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:

James 1.1: 1 Ιάκωβος θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ χαίρειν. / 1 James, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are in the Diaspora, greetings.

θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, Ƿ74 א A B 025 044 5 33 69 81 88 218 322 323 398 400 436 621 623 629 631 808 915 918 996 1067 1127 1175 1241 1243 1270 1297 1409 1448 1490c 1505 1524 1563 1598 1609 1611 1661 1678 1718 1735 1739 1751 1852 1890 2138 2298 2344 2374 2464 2492 2495 2523 2541 2805
θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 206 429 522 614 630 1292 1490 1799 1831 2080 2147 2200 2412 2652
θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 378
θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ, 945 1359
θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, some early versions
θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 365 1842 1850

Of James 2.1 Wettlaufer writes:

The opening of chapter two has caused even more consternation. .... The problem stems primarily from its string of genitives. Starting with τὴν πίστιν, just the modifier τοῦ κυρίου would make perfect sense: the faith of the lord. Adding the modifier ἡμῶν would still make fine sense: the faith of our lord. Even adding Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ would still make sense: the faith of our lord Jesus Christ. Such references are, in fact, found elsewhere in the New Testament, such as 1 Tim 1:14, or, arguably, Gal 2:16. What sense, however, is made by the addition of the final modifier τῆς δόξης? Which of the preceding terms does it modify: πίστιν, κυρίου, or Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ? Should it be rendered the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, as the NASB does, or the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, as the KJV has, or even believing as you do in our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns in glory, as the NEB reads? The differences in English translations alone are enough to demonstrate the confusion over the place and purpose of τῆς δόξης, and the question of how it connects to the preceding string of genitives. .... As Mayor summarised, the argument for it is quite straightforward: "... it is pointed out that the construction of τῆς δόξης has been felt as a great difficulty by all the interpreters, and that this difficulty disappears if we omit the words ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. We then have the perfectly simple phrase 'the faith of the Lord of glory,' the latter words, or words equivalent to them, being frequently used of God in Jewish writings...." This elegant solution does, it must be admitted, result in a better text for 2:1.

He presents this textual evidence far more clearly:

James 2.1: 1 Αδελφοί μου, μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης. / 1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

τὴν πίστιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης, א A B D 025 044 5 69 81 88 218 322 323 398 400 621 623 629 808 915 918 945 996 1127 1175 1241 1243 1270 1297 1359 1524 1563 1598 1609 1661 1678 1718 1735 1739 1751 1842 1852 2292 2374 2464 2492 2523 2805
τὴν πίστιν τῆς δόξης τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 206 429 436 522 614 630 1067 1292 1367 1409 1448 1490 1505 1611 1799 1831 1890 2080 2138 2147 2200 2412 2495 2541 2652
τὴν πίστιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 33 631
τὴν πίστιν τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 2344
τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, some early versions

He concludes:

Given that the same conjecture can be applied with equally felicitous results to 1:1, it can be seen that a solid case can be made to emend the text of James to omit its two Christ references.

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:

The problem is not as troubling as it might at first seem, and in fact there have been several plausible explanations. One idea suggests that the epistle was intended to evangelize Jews, and thus the Christology was strategically suppressed. Another wonders if James simply represents a type of Christianity that did not focus on the life and work of Jesus. As will be discussed below, Allison has revived an interesting proposal that the epistle’s intended recipients were, at least in part, non-Christian Jews, and it was out of consideration for them that the Christianity of the letter was deliberately toned down. As he concludes: "James... likely emerged from a group that, in its place and time... was still seeking to keep relations irenic. It was yet within the synagogue (2:2) and so still trying to get along as best as possible with those who did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah. In such a context the epistle of James makes good sense. The emphasis upon convictions rooted in the common religiosity of the wisdom literature, the omission of potentially divisive Christian affirmations, and the passages that can be read one way by a Christian and another way by a non-Christian would make for good will on the part of the latter and also provide edification for the former." Each of these different explanations can be subject to their own evaluation, but the one that we find most compelling is based in the idea of genre. That is, the lack of explicit Christian theology in James is probably best explained by the type of document that it is: it simply was not the type to include theology.

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:

1 Enoch 22.14: 14 The I blessed the Lord of glory [τὸν κύριον τῆς δόξης] and said: "Blessed be my Lord, the Lord of righteousness, who rules forever."

1 Enoch 27.3-5: 3 "In the last days there shall be upon them the spectacle of righteous judgement in the presence of the righteous for ever: here shall the merciful bless the Lord of glory [τὸν κύριον τῆς δόξης], the Eternal King. 4 In the days of judgement over the former, they shall bless Him for the mercy in accordance with which He has assigned them (their lot)." 5 Then I blessed the Lord of glory [τὸν κύριον τῆς δόξης] and set forth His glory and lauded Him gloriously.

1 Enoch 36.3: 3 Through each of these small portals pass the stars of heaven and run their course to the west on the path which is shown to them. And as often as I saw I blessed always the Lord of glory, and I continued to bless the Lord of glory who has wrought great and glorious wonders, to show the greatness of His work to the angels and to spirits and to men, that they might praise His work and all His creation: that they might see the work of His might and praise the great work of His hands and bless Him for ever.

1 Enoch 40.3: 3 And I heard the voices of those four presences as they uttered praises before the Lord of glory.

1 Enoch 63.2: 2 And they shall bless and glorify the Lord of Spirits, and say, "Blessed is the Lord of spirits and the Lord of kings, and the Lord of the mighty and the Lord of the rich, and the Lord of glory and the Lord of wisdom."

1 Enoch 75.3: 3 For the signs and the times and the years and the days the angel Uriel showed to me, whom the Lord of glory has set for ever over all the luminaries of the heaven, in the heaven and in the world, that they should rule on the face of the heaven and be seen on the earth, and be leaders for the day and the night, that is, the sun, moon, and stars, and all the ministering creatures which make their revolution in all the chariots of the heaven.

1 Enoch 83.8: 8 And now, my son, arise and make petition to the Lord of glory, since thou art a believer, that a remnant may remain on the earth, and that He may not destroy the whole earth.

(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:

James 2.24: 24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. [Refer to the entire context, 2.14-26.]

Romans 3.28: 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. [Refer also to Romans 9.32; Galatians 2.16; 3.2, 5.]

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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").
  3. 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.
  4. 2 Peter has the same number of "Jesus" mentions as 1 Peter, some of which add "Christ", but with only three chapters.
  5. 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.
  6. Jude, only one chapter long, has six instances of "Jesus Christ".
James is by far the stingiest epistle, proportionally speaking (besides 3 John), when it comes to mentioning Jesus Christ (only twice). These observations are what originally made me wonder about 1.1 and 2.1 in the first place, but I readily admit that they are not enough on their own to prove anything.

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.

Ben.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Jax
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Jax » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:26 am

Thank you for this thought provoking writeup. Very nice. :thumbup:

lsayre
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by lsayre » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:06 am

Nice! I'm in the camp that James never thought that the son of man had arrived within his lifetime. And ditto for the rest of the epistles. I think Christ has been grafted into all of them. I believe the entire original movement was awaiting the first coming. Not a second coming. And if there was a real Jesus, he also was awaiting the future (albeit imminent) coming of the son of man upon the clouds.

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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by FransJVermeiren » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:48 am

lsayre wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:06 am
Nice! I'm in the camp that James never thought that the son of man had arrived within his lifetime. And ditto for the rest of the epistles. I think Christ has been grafted into all of them. I believe the entire original movement was awaiting the first coming. Not a second coming. And if there was a real Jesus, he also was awaiting the future (albeit imminent) coming of the son of man upon the clouds.

I agree, with one objection. I think ‘Christ’ is original – and central – in the Pauline letters and the epistle of James, and ‘Jesus’ has been grafted into them afterwards. The Essene messianistic movement was focused on God and His future messiah.

lsayre
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by lsayre » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:54 am

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:48 am
I agree, with one objection. I think ‘Christ’ is original – and central – in the Pauline letters and the epistle of James, and ‘Jesus’ has been grafted into them afterwards. The Essene messianistic movement was focused on God and His future messiah.
On further reflection, I'm in agreement with your position as a correction to mine. The messianic movement was clearly awaiting the arrival of the Christ. I obviously didn't quite think it through properly before posting it above.
Last edited by lsayre on Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

lsayre
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by lsayre » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:49 am

I wonder how, where, and when a Jesus who fit the bill of being the awaited Christ (Messiah) began to retroactively appear upon the scene (or stage)? The million dollar question.

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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by John2 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:37 am

Ben wrote:
... the lack of Christian themes in the epistle ...
There's a lot to chew on in this OP, Ben, and I don't have a lot of internet time today, but I thought I'd isolate this one bit. What are "Christian themes"? Hegesippus mentions some in EH. 3.20.6 regarding the grandsons of Jesus' brother Judas that are (in my view anyway) exactly what we see in James' letter:
And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works.


Cf. James 2:14-26:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
And James 3:13:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
And James 5:3-9 (which I know you disagree with):
You have hoarded wealth in the last days ... be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:02 am

John2 wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:37 am
Ben wrote:
... the lack of Christian themes in the epistle ...
There's a lot to chew on in this OP, Ben, and I don't have a lot of internet time today, but I thought I'd isolate this one bit. What are "Christian themes"?
Part of my point in the OP (and I know I barely scratched the surface) was that it is actually not all that easy to distinguish between Christian and Jewish themes until we get to a certain point in church history.

You mentioned works, which James pairs together with Abraham's faithfulness, and of course the combination of works and Abraham have a grounding in Jewish tradition:

1 Maccabees 2.51-60: 51 "Remember the works of the ancestors, which they did in their generations; and you will receive great honor and an everlasting name. 52 Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? 53 Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. 54 Phinehas our ancestor, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. 55 Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. 56 Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. 57 David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom forever. 58 Elijah, because of great zeal for the law, was taken up into heaven. 59 Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. 60 Daniel, because of his innocence, was delivered from the mouth of the lions."

It is not just Christians who thought of the Lord as coming:

Micah 1.3: 3 For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.

I readily admit that the particular word which James uses for this coming (παρουσία) is attested for this event only in Christian writings (so far as I am aware), but what if, say, Paul got that term from his messianic Jewish forebears? Hegesippus' characterization of the kingdom as one which would appear "at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead and to give unto every one according to his works," certain sounds Christian, based on numerous parallels from Paul onward. But Hegesippus is Christian himself, and writing deep into century II, and is paraphrasing (at least, he is writing in indirect discourse here). Also, Jude is a very Christian epistle; what if Jude was what would later be called a Christian but James was not?

I am trying to throw off the constraints of stark Christian-versus-Jew thinking here, an effort I know you are sympathetic toward. To my mind, belief in an already past or present Messiah probably meant little to one's Jewishness. Think of Akiva, if he really did endorse Simon bar Kokhba as the Messiah: was he any less a rabbi, any less a Jew, for having done so? The difference between Jews holding diverse beliefs on the Messiah may have been more analogous to Baptists versus Methodists than to Christians versus Jews or Muslims or whatnot.
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by John2 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:26 pm

Ben wrote:
Think of Akiva, if he really did endorse Simon bar Kokhba as the Messiah: was he any less a rabbi, any less a Jew, for having done so?
No, of course not (which I get is what you're implying). And that's exactly how I look at it from my perspective of seeing Christianity as a faction of the Fourth Philosophy. Were the followers of Theudas or the Egyptian any less Jewish than, say, Jewish Christians? Of course not.

The thing about the Letter of James to me is if James understood Jesus as being divine and thus associated with the coming of "the Lord" in 5:7-8, and Boyarin convinces me (based on the coming of the "son of man" theme elsewhere in Christian writings) that he did. And I don't think that would then make James (or any other Jewish Christian) any less a Jew. I'm even starting to think other Fourth Philosophic factions could have viewed their particular leader as a divine Messiah-type figure for the same Danielic reasons Christians (in my view) viewed Jesus as divine. Granted, there is evidence that not all Jewish Christians (at least among those living after 70 CE, i.e., Epiphanius' Ebionites, if I recall correctly) viewed Jesus as divine, and that could have been the case for other Fourth Philosophic factions as well (again, in my view).
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Re: James 1.1 and 2.1.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:21 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:26 pm
The thing about the Letter of James to me is if James understood Jesus as being divine and thus associated with the coming of "the Lord" in 5:7-8, and Boyarin convinces me (based on the coming of the "son of man" theme elsewhere in Christian writings) that he did. And I don't think that would then make James (or any other Jewish Christian) any less a Jew.
I totally agree. James (or anybody) could easily believe that Jesus is divine without ceasing to be an ancient Jew.
I'm even starting to think other Fourth Philosophic factions could have viewed their particular leader as a divine Messiah-type figure for the same Danielic reasons Christians (in my view) viewed Jesus as divine.
That seems possible. It also seems possible that gentile Christian groups did the same for their own leaders or inspirations: "I am of Cephas," "I am of Paul," "I am of Apollos." And of course we have the case of Simon Magus.
Granted, there is evidence that not all Jewish Christians (at least among those living after 70 CE, i.e., Epiphanius' Ebionites, if I recall correctly) viewed Jesus as divine, and that could have been the case for other Fourth Philosophic factions as well (again, in my view).
True.

My reasons for thinking that maybe James had nothing to do with Jesus are not about his Jewishness. My reasons have to do with the schizophrenic evidence we seem to have for James. On the one hand, he is the leader paramount of the Jerusalem church in some texts; on the other, he is not even a believer in others (I know this can be harmonized by a conversion). On the one hand, he is the physical brother of Jesus in some texts; on the other, there are texts which are strangely mute on that score; later texts have the excuse of trying to preserve the perpetual virginity of Mary, but what excuse do the earlier texts have? On the one hand, James is part of a triumvirate of pillars alongside Cephas and John; on the other, there is another triumvirate of disciples comprised of Peter and John and a different James; is this a coincidence, or what is going on? In Acts 12.2, James of Zebedee is executed; in Acts 12.17, James comes striding in unannounced as the leader of the Jerusalem church. It is easy to find texts which affirm that James is a Christian leader, and it is easy to find texts which affirm that James is the brother of Jesus; but it is not all that easy to find texts that do both (both Paul and the gospel of the Hebrews being battlegrounds on that front, and Hegesippus being the next witness thereafter). Some texts (Matthew, Mark, John) seem almost deliberate in leaving the reader with the impression that the brothers of Jesus did not believe in him; others (Luke, Acts, James, Jude) either insist or imply that James was a believer, but never identify him as a brother of Jesus.

The mainstream solution to these problems, if such they are, is harmonistic: for example, James was not a believer during Jesus' ministry, but then he became one shortly thereafter; or there really was a James of Zebedee who was executed and then replaced, in a manner of speaking, by the James of whom we speak. And, honestly, there is no smoking gun against that approach. But I do not think it is the only possible approach; therefore, I am exploring others. And one of those others happens to line up pretty well with the notion that James 1.1 and 2.1 contain interpolations.
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