The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

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The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:55 pm

I have been collecting instances in the epistle of James of statements which run parallel to dominical sayings found especially in the gospels. This post is a basic list of what I have so far, with a couple of comments to follow.

It will be given:

James 1.5: 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him [δοθήσεται αὐτῷ]. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Matthew 7.7: 7 "Ask, and it will be given to you [δοθήσεται ὑμῖν]; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

Luke 11.9: 9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you [δοθήσεται ὑμῖν]; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

Matthew 21.21: 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen."

Mark 11.23: 23 "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him."

Doers of the word/law:

James 1.22: 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word [ποιηταὶ λόγου], and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Romans 2.13: 13 For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law [ποιηταὶ νόμου] will be justified. [Relevant link.]

1 Maccabees 2.67: 67 "You shall rally about you all the doers of the law [τοὺς ποιητὰς τοῦ νόμου], and avenge the wrong done to your people."

Matthew 7.24: 24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and does them [ποιεῖ αὐτούς] may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock."

Luke 6.47: 47 "Everyone who comes to Me and is hearing My words and is doing them [ποιῶν αὐτούς], I will show you whom he is like."

The poor:

James 2.5: 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

Matthew 5.3: Blessed are the poor [οἱ πτωχοὶ] in spirit [τῷ πνεύματι], since theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.

Isaiah 61.1a OG: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to poor ones [πτωχοῖς]....

Luke 6.20b: Blessed are the poor [οἱ πτωχοί; one of the Sinaiticus correctors adds "in spirit"], since yours is the kingdom of God.

Marcion 6.20b (?): Blessed are the poor; theirs is the kingdom of God.

Polycarp to the Philippians 2.3: ...and once more, "Blessed are the poor [οἱ πτωχοὶ]...."

Thomas 54: Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven."

Out of the (same) mouth:

James 3.10: 10 Out of the same mouth come [ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ στόματος ἐξέρχεται] both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

Matthew 15.18-19: 18 "But the things that proceed out of the mouth [ἐκ τοῦ στόματος] come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come [ἐξέρχονται] evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders."

Figs and olives (by their fruits):

James 3.12: 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Matthew 7.16: 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?"

Ask and receive:

James 4.3: 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Matthew 7.7-8: 7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Luke 11.9-11: 9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened."

1 John 3.21: 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

Cleanse your hands:

James 4.8: 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you doubleminded.

Matthew 5.30: 30 "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell."

Matthew 18.8: 8 "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire."

Mark 9.43: 43 "If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire."

Mourn and weep:

James 4.9: 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep [πενθήσατε καὶ κλαύσατε]; let your laughter [γέλως] be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.

Luke 6.25: 25 "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing [γελῶντες] now, for you shall mourn and weep [πενθήσετε καὶ κλαύσετε]."

Humble yourselves:

James 4.10: 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Matthew 23.12: 12 "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."

Luke 14.11: 11 "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Riches, rust, and moths:

James 5.2: 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten [σητόβρωτα]. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted [κατίωται]; and their rust [ἰός] will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

Matthew 6.19-21: 19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth [σής] and decay [βρῶσις] destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Luke 12.33-34: 33 "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth [σής] destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Epistle of Jeremiah 1.23/24: 23/24 As for the gold which they wear for beauty, they will not shine unless some one wipes off the rust [ἰόν]; for even when they were being cast, they had no feeling.

Yes, yes, and no, no:

James 5.12: 12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no [ἤτω δὲ ὑμῶν τὸ ναὶ ναὶ καὶ τὸ οὒ οὔ], so that you may not fall under judgment.

Refer to Matthew 5.33-37; 2 Corinthians 1.15-20; Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 16.5; Midrash, Proverbs 19.18. Link.

It will be forgiven:

James 5.14: 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him [ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ].

Matthew 12.32: 32 "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him [ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ]; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."

Luke 12.10: 10 "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him [ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ]; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him."

I once suggested that some sayings attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels may have originally derived from the epistle of James:
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:08 pm
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.
I wound up backing off of that suggestion somewhat in light of the following saying:

James 4.3: 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Matthew 7.7-8: 7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Luke 11.9-10: 9 So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.

The sentiment in James 4.3 certainly looks like a reaction to that in Matthew 7.7-8 = Luke 11.9-10, and not the other way around. It sounds as if something like Matthew 7.7-8 = Luke 11.9-10 was written or spoken first; then people tried to follow its simple principle, and that principle failed (because that is not how life works); and then, finally, something like James 4.3 was written as an explanation for why the principle failed.

There is another passage which may imply the same directionality:

James 2.5: 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor [τοὺς πτωχούς] of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

Matthew 5.3: Blessed are the poor [οἱ πτωχοὶ] in spirit [τῷ πνεύματι], since theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.

Luke 6.20b: Blessed are the poor [οἱ πτωχοί], since yours is the kingdom of God.

This rhetorical question presumes reader familiarity with the statement: God has elected the poor to inherit the kingdom.

But the directionality seems, if anything, to reverse itself in yet another parallel:

James 5.12: 12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

Matthew 5.33-37: 33 "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.' 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your statement be: 'Yes, yes,' or: 'No, no.' Anything beyond these is of evil."

The Matthean version prohibits a longer list of possible substitutions for God, and does so for more specific reasons: not just "heaven" and "earth" as in James, but also Jerusalem and even one's own head, with a distinct rationale for each. It is as if something fairly simple and straightforward, like what we find in James 5.12, came first; then people found and exploited loopholes; and then finally someone else had to draw out the ruling to cover as many bases as possible.

When the directionality seems to cut in both directions, it becomes doubtful either that James copied directly from Matthew or that Matthew copied directly from James (which was my original suggestion). Rather, both may have been tapping a separate source. I have suggested before that at least one collection (and probably more than one) of "words of the Lord" circulated in the early church, since that category: sayings from "the Lord" (and I do not prejudge whether this title was originally intended to designate Jesus of Nazareth or whether it was originally intended to designate the God of the Jews), seems to hold a special place in early Christian literature. It seems quite possible to me that the sayings in James which overlap sayings in the gospels hail from some such collection of sayings, whether written or oral, text or tradition.

Ben.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:03 pm

Very cool. Thanks Ben!
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:05 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:03 pm
Very cool. Thanks Ben!
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by DCHindley » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:25 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:55 pm
I have been collecting instances in the epistle of James of statements which run parallel to dominical sayings found especially in the gospels. This post is a basic list of what I have so far, with a couple of comments to follow.

It will be given:
...
Doers of the word/law:
...
The poor:
...
Out of the (same) mouth:
...
Figs and olives (by their fruits):
...
Ask and receive:
...
Cleanse your hands:
...
Mourn and weep:
...
Humble yourselves:
...
Riches, rust, and moths:
...
Yes, yes, and no, no:
...
It will be forgiven:
...

Jesus in the synoptic gospels may have originally derived from the epistle of James:
... I wound up backing off of that suggestion somewhat in light of the following saying: ...

The sentiment in James 4.3 certainly looks like a reaction to that in Matthew 7.7-8 = Luke 11.9-10, and not the other way around. It sounds as if something like Matthew 7.7-8 = Luke 11.9-10 was written or spoken first; then people tried to follow its simple principle, and that principle failed (because that is not how life works); and then, finally, something like James 4.3 was written as an explanation for why the principle failed.

There is another passage which may imply the same directionality: ...

This rhetorical question presumes reader familiarity with the statement: God has elected the poor to inherit the kingdom.

But the directionality seems, if anything, to reverse itself in yet another parallel: ...

The Matthean version prohibits a longer list of possible substitutions for God, and does so for more specific reasons: not just "heaven" and "earth" as in James, but also Jerusalem and even one's own head, with a distinct rationale for each. It is as if something fairly simple and straightforward, like what we find in James 5.12, came first; then people found and exploited loopholes; and then finally someone else had to draw out the ruling to cover as many bases as possible.

When the directionality seems to cut in both directions, it becomes doubtful either that James copied directly from Matthew or that Matthew copied directly from James (which was my original suggestion). Rather, both may have been tapping a separate source. I have suggested before that at least one collection (and probably more than one) of "words of the Lord" circulated in the early church, since that category: sayings from "the Lord" (and I do not prejudge whether this title was originally intended to designate Jesus of Nazareth or whether it was originally intended to designate the God of the Jews), seems to hold a special place in early Christian literature. It seems quite possible to me that the sayings in James which overlap sayings in the gospels hail from some such collection of sayings, whether written or oral, text or tradition.

Ben.
That was a very interesting comparison! Thanks for sharing.



Way back in 2013, there was a thread about commonalities between Mark (incl. the parallels in Luke & Matthew), and 3rd John:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=419&p=7038&hilit=3+ ... spel#p7038

That discussion concluded (I think) a very similar relationship, a common source/tradition.

What do you think were the materials in these more-or-less common sources? Are was talking Papias, or someone else unknown?

If the latter, it is very similar to the problem of the suggested document "Q" not being attested in surviving church fathers.

DCH (sick with a chest cold - keeping my fingers crossed!!)

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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:47 am

DCHindley wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:25 am
That was a very interesting comparison! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, and no problem.
Way back in 2013, there was a thread about commonalities between Mark (incl. the parallels in Luke & Matthew), and 3rd John:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=419&p=7038&hilit=3+ ... spel#p7038

That discussion concluded (I think) a very similar relationship, a common source/tradition.
Good discussion. Thanks for the link.
What do you think were the materials in these more-or-less common sources? Are was talking Papias, or someone else unknown?
No, not Papias, though I suspect his work fed into the final version of the gospel of John and probably also into the final version of the gospel of Luke. Papias, too, was collecting these materials, he tells us. He had both textual and oral sources at his disposal, which is one reason I am usually not sure whether any given connection between two texts is textual or not.
If the latter, it is very similar to the problem of the suggested document "Q" not being attested in surviving church fathers.
Q theorists potentially have a problem like that, yes, but that is partly because they are talking about a specific text which specifically fed into at least two of the canonical gospels and which has a specific structure and set of contents. If we draw back the scope and look at how the "words of the Lord" (link) as an overall group are treated in early Christianity, we can see that there is a special status accorded to them. Sometimes the author quoting one of these "words" may have gotten it from a text; at other times he or she may have gotten it from oral sources; and at other times he or she may have simply made it up on the spot. None of these options ought to be discounted from the start.

With respect to the link between 3 John and Mark, MacDonald makes a long argument, across two books, for the existence of a text called the Logoi, a text which was interpreted by Papias in light of the oral information he received from his informants and which was used by several other authors of extant books. He argues specifically that the author of 1 John knew the Logoi; I do not know offhand for sure, but I imagine he would be fine with the author of 3 John (if not the same person) having known the Logoi, as well (I do not have either Two Shipwrecked Gospels or The Dionysian Gospel open in front of me right now). MacDonald marshals his arguments in support of a specific text, just like the Q theorists, and so his hypothesis is potentially subject to the same problem, if such it is, that the Q theorists have: the issue of an important text going unremarked in our extant materials.

It is the specificity that bothers me personally. The arguments themselves, I think, show that there are intermediary sources at times between our extant texts (that is, just because 3 John and Mark evince a connection does not mean that 3 John knew Mark or that Mark knew 3 John directly). It is the nature, number, and extent of those intermediary sources, and therefore our ability to accurately reconstruct them, which I question.

So I stick (so far) with what I find is attested. It is attested that evangelists, apostles, preachers, and teachers went around in early Christianity spreading some kind of oral preaching or teaching. It is attested that this preaching or teaching consisted at least partly of "words of the Lord" or "what Jesus said" or suchlike. It is attested that these "words" were sometimes written down. It is unmistakable that these "words of the Lord" are accorded a special status. This set of circumstances would incentive early leaders both to collect and to invent "words of the Lord" for their own benefit or for that of their followers.

I have been working on another pet theory of mine (part of what led to the OP in the first place) which suggests that the original "words of the Lord" had nothing originally to do with Jesus. They were prophecies uttered by prophets who believed, as per Numbers 11.26-30 and Joel 2.28-32 (3.1-5 Masoretic; refer also to Acts 2.14-21), that the last days were upon them and that therefore the gift of prophecy was freely available. They were literally "words of the Lord," in which the Lord in question was the God of the Jews. At the same time, the "advent" or "coming of the Lord" was prophesied, as per Daniel 7.13-14 and Zechariah 14.5, especially, and again the Lord in question was the God of the Jews. Finally, there were possibly also "brethren of the Lord," a leadership group for whom (you guessed it) the Lord in question was the God of the Jews. At some point, at least partly because the one "coming" in Daniel and the one "coming" in Zechariah are two different figures (one like a son of man in Daniel, the Lord God in Zechariah), a Messiah figure entered into the mix, and this Messiah figure was (also) called Lord, and now the "words of the Lord" could just as easily refer to the words of such a figure as to the words of the Lord God spoken through a latter day prophet.

But, whether I am right or wrong about all of that, I think that "words of the Lord" are attested in early Christianity. Wandering preachers and teachers either spread them or invented them; authors either recorded them or invented them; and we are left with only our wits and wiles to help us figure it all out.

YMMV.

ETA:

Zechariah 14.5, Daniel 7.13-14, 1 Corinthians 8.6, & Revelation 11.15.png
Zechariah 14.5, Daniel 7.13-14, 1 Corinthians 8.6, & Revelation 11.15.png (74.65 KiB) Viewed 532 times

You can see in this graphic how, if one states simply that "the Lord" is coming, who that Lord actually is will depend upon which prophecy you are thinking of. In Zechariah 14.5, it is the Lord God who is coming; in Daniel 7.13-14, however, it is the one like a son of man, a different figure than the Ancient of Days who, presumably, is the same as the Jewish Lord God. The attribution of characteristics like this to the Messiah figure (= Son), characteristics which in other places in the Hebrew scriptures belong to the Lord God (= Father), is in my judgment a significant part of why it can be hard to tell sometimes, when an early Christian author writes of "the Lord," which figure is intended.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by perseusomega9 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:54 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:47 am
I have been working on another pet theory of mine (part of what led to the OP in the first place) which suggests that the original "words of the Lord" had nothing originally to do with Jesus. They were prophecies uttered by prophets who believed, as per Numbers 11.26-30 and Joel 2.28-32 (3.1-5 Masoretic; refer also to Acts 2.14-21), that the last days were upon them and that therefore the gift of prophecy was freely available. They were literally "words of the Lord," in which the Lord in question was the God of the Jews. At the same time, the "advent" or "coming of the Lord" was prophesied, as per Daniel 7.13-14 and Zechariah 14.5, especially, and again the Lord in question was the God of the Jews. Finally, there were possibly also "brethren of the Lord," a leadership group for whom (you guessed it) the Lord in question was the God of the Jews. At some point, at least partly because the one "coming" in Daniel and the one "coming" in Zechariah are two different figures (one like a son of man in Daniel, the Lord God in Zechariah), a Messiah figure entered into the mix, and this Messiah figure was (also) called Lord, and now the "words of the Lord" could just as easily refer to the words of such a figure as to the words of the Lord God spoken through a latter day prophet.
I think you're more right in the general than you are wrong in any specifics. This fits in with Mack's Jesus groups and Christ cults. With the prophecy comes the signs/mighty works (magic to others), these ideas start spreading in the synagogues, starts evolving at the edges with the gentile members bringing mystery religion concepts in. People, like Paul or Simon/Simeon/Peter/Kephas, get the prophetic word that gentiles can join the people of God without having to become full Jewish proselytes. This simmers for awhile, Rome levels Jerusalem, gentile and jewish relations go bad for the next 60 years. After Bar Kochba Christians don't want to be associated as rebellious zealots and the story changes more.
The metric to judge if one is a good exegete: the way he/she deals with Barabbas.

Who disagrees with me on this precise point is by definition an idiot.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:42 am

perseusomega9 wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:54 am
I think you're more right in the general than you are wrong in any specifics.
Thank you. :)
This fits in with Mack's Jesus groups and Christ cults.
I have tried from time to time to line my own views up with Mack's on the various groups, and have had some success, but not full success. A massive caveat attaches to that, though: I have read Mack, but honestly, I find his style of writing to be... well, I guess "tedious" is a decent enough word for it. There are some authors whose style draws me right in and carries me to the end of the book or article almost before I notice, and Mack is just not one of those authors. All that to say, I usually end up using Robert M. Price's summary of Mack in Deconstructing Jesus for this exercise rather than using Mack's own books, since Price is one of those aforementioned authors whose style draws me in. Using a summary rather than "the real deal," however, may not give Mack's views their full due, and I may therefore be missing some connections between his reconstruction and mine. But, like I said, my endeavors in that area have not been fruitless, either.
With the prophecy comes the signs/mighty works (magic to others), these ideas start spreading in the synagogues, starts evolving at the edges with the gentile members bringing mystery religion concepts in. People, like Paul or Simon/Simeon/Peter/Kephas, get the prophetic word that gentiles can join the people of God without having to become full Jewish proselytes.
Agreed. The signs are there because signs are one of the most common tools in a prophet's belt, so to speak. The term "magic" is more prescriptive than descriptive: that is, my miracles may be your magic. I think the way you worded your statement agrees with this take. And yes, the gentile mystery stuff is definitely involved. I am not completely sure that Jewish groups did not bring them in, too.
This simmers for awhile, Rome levels Jerusalem, gentile and jewish relations go bad for the next 60 years. After Bar Kochba Christians don't want to be associated as rebellious zealots and the story changes more.
There definitely seems to be a tendency to separate the nascent Christian movement from certain rebellious overtones which may have been there before. I tentatively identified one slender part of that tendency in response to you at one point, you may recall. I just now reread that post of mine, and I find I still think that those particular passages I identify were probably penned against the specific idea of a revolt against Rome (and not just against some general idea of misbehaving in civil society).

Slightly unrelated to this topic, I have been sort of keeping tabs on the civic unrest in my country (the US) since the killing of George Floyd, and for two main reasons. First, it is my country, and there are things to be concerned about. Second, however, there may be interesting parallels right in front of me to the confusingly intertwined Jewish movements which led to two revolts against Rome. I think those parallels may be worth bearing in mind while trying to reconstruct Christian origins.

I always appreciate your input, and hope I have not droned on too long about this instance of it.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by John2 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:02 pm

Ben wrote:

I have been working on another pet theory of mine (part of what led to the OP in the first place) which suggests that the original "words of the Lord" had nothing originally to do with Jesus. They were prophecies uttered by prophets who believed, as per Numbers 11.26-30 and Joel 2.28-32 (3.1-5 Masoretic; refer also to Acts 2.14-21), that the last days were upon them and that therefore the gift of prophecy was freely available. They were literally "words of the Lord," in which the Lord in question was the God of the Jews.

While I get that there were End Time prophets, I have a hard time buying that Christians incorporated their words about God and ascribed them to Jesus. We've discussed our takes on the meaning of "Lord" in James and other writings before and I have nothing new to say about mine, so I will say that it just seems simpler to me to suppose that Christians incorporated the "words" of one guy (Jesus) than that of several and then at some point ascribed them to one guy instead of to God.


In Zechariah 14.5, it is the Lord God who is coming; in Daniel 7.13-14, however, it is the one like a son of man, a different figure than the Ancient of Days who, presumably, is the same as the Jewish Lord God.

I'm a little rusty on the subject, but if I recall Boyarin correctly, do the plural thrones mentioned in Dan. 7:9 not suggest that the son of man figure shared divinity with the Ancient of Days (i.e., binitarianism)? They were at least interpreted that way by some groups, right?
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:53 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:02 pm
While I get that there were End Time prophets, I have a hard time buying that Christians incorporated their words about God and ascribed them to Jesus. We've discussed our takes on the meaning of "Lord" in James and other writings before and I have nothing new to say about mine, so I will say that it just seems simpler to me to suppose that Christians incorporated the "words" of one guy (Jesus) than that of several and then at some point ascribed them to one guy instead of to God.
Let me give an example of what I am talking about:

1 Clement 6.1: 1 But the Lord says [λέγει], "No household servant can serve as the slave of two masters" (= Matthew 6.24 = Luke 16.13). If we wish to serve as slaves of both God and wealth, it is of no gain to us.

1 Clement 13.2: 2 For the Lord says [λέγει], "My name is constantly blasphemed among all the gentiles" (= Isaiah 52.5). And again, "Woe to the one who causes my name to be blasphemed" (= ???). How is it blasphemed? When you fail to do what I wish.

There are three quotations here. Two of them are introduced by "the Lord says," and the third plays off of the second one with "and again," thus implying "the Lord says." Without knowing in advance the source for each quotation, would you be able to determine which one came from an ancient Jewish prophet speaking in the name of the Lord God, which one came from a more recent Jewish man in Palestine who at some point came to be known as Lord, and which one is so hard to trace that Bart Ehrman notated it as "source unknown" in his edition of the Apostolic Fathers?
I'm a little rusty on the subject, but if I recall Boyarin correctly, do the plural thrones mentioned in Dan. 7:9 not suggest that the son of man figure shared divinity with the Ancient of Days (i.e., binitarianism)? They were at least interpreted that way by some groups, right?
Yes, perhaps so, but I am not sure what bearing that has on my point. We still sometimes want to know which of the two figures the title "Lord" points to, and it is not always clear, regardless of whether both figures are considered divine or not.

In other words, my point does not change whether we regard the "one like a son of man" as divine himself or as some kind of angel or as a human or as anything else.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by John2 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 5:59 pm

There are three quotations here. Two of them are introduced by "the Lord says," and the third plays off of the second one with "and again," thus implying "the Lord says." Without knowing in advance the source for each quotation, would you be able to determine which one came from an ancient Jewish prophet speaking in the name of the Lord God, which one came from a more recent Jewish man in Palestine who at some point came to be known as Lord, and which one is so hard to trace that Bart Ehrman notated it as "source unknown" in his edition of the Apostolic Fathers?

I think the author and readers of 1 Clement were able to distinguish between who "the Lord" is in the saying about serving two masters and who "the Lord" is in Is. 52:5. And given that the unknown saying immediately follows and is similar to the latter, I think it could have been thought (though wrongly, apparently) to have come from the same source.

At the end of the day though, in my view both "Lords" were thought (in James and 1 Clement, at least) to be the same Lord (like the son of man and the Ancient of Days, at least by interpretation). But since James (at least in my view) and Clement (and their readers) had access to sayings of or writings about Jesus, I think they could tell which "version" of "the Lord" was which that way. In other words, if a saying was from (or understood to have been from) the OT or other pre-Christian writings, then "the Lord" was God, and if a saying was from a Christian source (that wasn't clearly citing or referring to the OT God) then "the Lord" was Jesus, even though both entities were thought to be "the Lord."

Maybe another way of putting it is that Christian writings offered Christians more sayings and doings of "the Lord" (in the form of Jesus), and those sayings and doings were distinguishable from earlier ones by not being (or not thought to be) in the OT or other pre-Christian writings.
You know in spite of all you gained, you still have to stand out in the pouring rain.

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