Did Luke write the epistle of James?

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Ulan
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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Ulan » Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:51 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:07 pm
Acts misunderstand the conflict between Peter and Paul.
Deliberately so, I think. Given they transform Paul into Peter and Peter into Paul, they try to bridge two irreconcilable positions by mincing those personalities and their views until you get a patty that is palatable for most people from both camps.

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Irish1975
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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Irish1975 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:04 am

Ulan wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:51 am
Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:07 pm
Acts misunderstand the conflict between Peter and Paul.
Deliberately so, I think. Given they transform Paul into Peter and Peter into Paul, they try to bridge two irreconcilable positions by mincing those personalities and their views until you get a patty that is palatable for most people from both camps.
Well said.

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Irish1975
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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Irish1975 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:37 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:06 pm
So "Luke" is only pretending to misunderstand Paul in the epistle of James?
No, Luke is pretending to be James, who is criticizing unnamed persons who, to the reader, hold a distorted version of Paul’s doctrine of salvation. That’s not the same as Luke himself “pretending to misunderstand Paul.”

This makes a lot of sense if Luke is writing at a time when many or most followers of Paul are taking his ideas in strange directions, i.e., Valentinus, Marcion.

The epistle of James isn’t railing specifically against those misreadings, but instead wants to challenge any reading of Paul that makes faith into an excuse not to live a holy life—a common concern in the post-Pauline epistles generally. We only have to think of the Reformation to see that Paul’s writings did in fact inspire people to take justification and the gift of the holy spirit and run with it into “unholy” directions. That Luke would have seen the danger here, and used the apostolic authority of James to set a limit, is entirely consistent with Luke’s usual MO.

I’m curious what would be an alternative explanation for the misreading of Paul that we see in James. Supposing that the author didn’t know the Pauline writings seems just as implausible as supposing that he did.

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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:25 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:37 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:06 pm
So "Luke" is only pretending to misunderstand Paul in the epistle of James?
No, Luke is pretending to be James, who is criticizing unnamed persons who, to the reader, hold a distorted version of Paul’s doctrine of salvation. That’s not the same as Luke himself “pretending to misunderstand Paul.”
Okay, I admit I am not understanding your approach, then. I can see a distinction above, sure, but I do not understand what difference that distinction makes.

The stumbling block for me is still this:

Romans 4.1-3: 1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works [εἰ γὰρ Ἀβραὰμ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη], he has something to boast about; but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “And Abraham had faith in [ἐπίστευσεν] God, and it was reckoned to him as justification.”

James 2.20-22: 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without the works [ἡ πίστις χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων] is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works [Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη], when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.

If, as we seem to agree, the author of James is reacting to the epistle to the Romans (that is, James is not being written independently of Romans), then the above makes it look like James is flatly contradicting Paul. We can perform all the same maneuvers that apologists and others have had to perform over the years to get them to be saying the same thing, but the fact remains: it looks like James is contradicting Paul. The sympathetic reader of both epistles is being forced into a position of having to reconcile the two, if possible. The author James seems to be saying to the author of Romans, "You drew the wrong conclusion from Abraham's faith in God; here, let me show you how it is done."

This strikes me as exactly the opposite of the MO that the author of Acts used, for instance, on Peter and Paul, as summarized by Ulan:
Ulan wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:51 am
Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:07 pm
Acts misunderstand the conflict between Peter and Paul.
Deliberately so, I think. Given they transform Paul into Peter and Peter into Paul, they try to bridge two irreconcilable positions by mincing those personalities and their views until you get a patty that is palatable for most people from both camps.
Acts transforms Paul into Peter and Peter into Paul; Acts makes them speak with the same voice, in an ideological sense. I do not think one can go through Peter's words in 1 Peter, Paul's words in his epistles, or the words of either apostle in any of the speeches given to them in Acts and find a pair of passages that even look like they contradict one another in a manner similar to how James 2.20-22 seems to contradict Romans 4.1-3. The sympathetic reader has it easy; no need to reconcile anything, because the author has already ironed out the wrinkles. Maybe I am wrong about that; maybe such a pair of passages exists. But, at any rate, this is the (main) source of my hesitation: if the author of Acts also wrote James, then he is making James look contradictory to Paul, whereas elsewhere he seems to want to make all the apostles speak as one.

I am not trying to be difficult; I just do not see how James and Romans give us the same MO as Paul in Acts and Peter in Acts (or any other apostolic pair in Acts, for that matter).
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Irish1975
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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Irish1975 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:42 am

Here is a striking verbal parallel, which suggests that the author of James had Romans in front of him, and used it in a variety of ways—

Romans 7:23
βλέπω δὲ ἕτερον νόμον ἐν τοῖς μέλεσίν μου ἀντιστρατευόμενον τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντά με ἐν τῷ νόμῳ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς μέλεσίν μου.

James 4:1
Πόθεν πόλεμοι καὶ πόθεν μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν; οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν, ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν ὑμῶν τῶν στρατευομένων ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ὑμῶν;

I found this in Luke Timothy Johnson’s collection of studies on the James epistle (Brother of Jesus, Friend of God). Johnson sees many points of harmony between Luke, Paul, and James on the level of history as well as scripture; one can easily agree with him about the scriptural level and leave the historicism out.

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Irish1975
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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Irish1975 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 1:40 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:25 am
.
This strikes me as exactly the opposite of the MO that the author of Acts used, for instance, on Peter and Paul...

But, at any rate, this is the (main) source of my hesitation: if the author of Acts also wrote James, then he is making James look contradictory to Paul, whereas elsewhere he seems to want to make all the apostles speak as one.

I am not trying to be difficult; I just do not see how James and Romans give us the same MO as Paul in Acts and Peter in Acts (or any other apostolic pair in Acts, for that matter).
The Lukan MO is to make both Paul and the pillars do or say whatever suits Luke’s own purposes. That he assimiliates Peter and Paul in Acts has no bearing on how we should expect him to handle James, a different person, and a far more ambiguous character in the Gospels and in Paul’s epistles.

In Acts, James stupidly gets Paul arrested (and eventually killed), all in a (to 2nd c. gentiles) backwards Judaizing attempt to get Paul to make a show of being an observant Jew, to please the men of Jerusalem. In other words, Luke seems to tell this story to vindicate Paul’s anger against James in Galatians. Paul is the one who never seeks to please men, but only God. James is mostly a good fellow in Acts, but in the end his backward attachment to the outward forms of Judaism result in Paul’s tragic arrest. So in the case of James, no, Acts does not “make all the apostles speak as one.”

As for the supposed contradiction about Abraham, I don’t see how that’s a problem for Luke. Why would Luke have to agree with Romans? Luke contradicts or modifies or “corrects” other authors flagrantly all over the place, most obviously Paul and Mark. Trying to get Paul and James “to be saying the same thing” about justification may be a concern for modern Christians but why would it be one for Luke?

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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:08 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 1:40 pm
In Acts, James stupidly gets Paul arrested (and eventually killed), all in a (to 2nd c. gentiles) backwards Judaizing attempt to get Paul to make a show of being an observant Jew, to please the men of Jerusalem. In other words, Luke seems to tell this story to vindicate Paul’s anger against James in Galatians. Paul is the one who never seeks to please men, but only God. James is mostly a good fellow in Acts, but in the end his backward attachment to the outward forms of Judaism result in Paul’s tragic arrest. So in the case of James, no, Acts does not “make all the apostles speak as one.”
It is true that Acts sometimes highlights small misunderstandings or failings between its characters in order to cover up larger, more historical or traditional disagreements. In the case above, I agree with you that James' request that Paul take the vow that winds up getting Paul arrested (the small misunderstanding or failing) seems to vindicate Paul's proactive anger against James in Galatians (the historical or traditional reality). But is there anything ideological at stake in Acts 21 between James and Paul? Is there a hint that Paul really is undermining the Law in the way James says others are saying? Or is the minor failing on James' part covering up a major ideological rift, as seen in Galatians 2?

The same thing can be seen with respect to Barnabas. In Acts 15.36-41 Paul and Barnabas part ways because of a spat over John Mark. Galatians 2.11-13, however, might suggest that they parted ways over more substantial, ideological matters. Again, pettiness is being used to paper over broader theological or doctrinal disagreements.

This is why I spoke of "the same voice, in an ideological sense," in my post.

Maybe the contradiction between James and Romans looks more like one of those petty things in Acts to your eye. I guess to my eye it looks more ideological and substantial, the kind of thing that Acts would be more inclined to other, pettier things to cover up.
As for the supposed contradiction about Abraham, I don’t see how that’s a problem for Luke. Why would Luke have to agree with Romans? Luke contradicts or modifies or “corrects” other authors flagrantly all over the place, most obviously Paul and Mark.
Mark, if you mean the gospel, does not really work for me in this context, since (A) the gospel itself is anonymous, and therefore "Luke" may not have thought he was contradicting anyone important to his narrative about the early church, and (B) there is the whole matter of who exactly is responsible in the gospel of Luke for correcting the gospel of Mark. Is it the same person who wrote Acts? Is it Marcion? Is it an editor who corrected Marcion before the final editor of Luke-Acts came along? Very complex matters.

But Paul works! What are some of those flagrant examples from all over the place of Luke-Acts correcting Paul in a way similar to how James corrects the epistle to the Romans?
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Irish1975
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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Irish1975 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:40 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:08 pm
Maybe the contradiction between James and Romans looks more like one of those petty things in Acts to your eye. I guess to my eye it looks more ideological and substantial, the kind of thing that Acts would be more inclined to other, pettier things to cover up.
I don’t at all think James 2:14-26 is a petty matter. What I don’t understand is your view (correct me if I’m wrong) that it would it be uncharacteristic of Luke to use the authoritative figure of James to correct a distorted or extreme interpretation of Paul’s teaching on justification.
As for the supposed contradiction about Abraham, I don’t see how that’s a problem for Luke. Why would Luke have to agree with Romans? Luke contradicts or modifies or “corrects” other authors flagrantly all over the place, most obviously Paul and Mark.
Mark, if you mean the gospel, does not really work for me in this context, since (A) the gospel itself is anonymous, and therefore "Luke" may not have thought he was contradicting anyone important to his narrative about the early church, and (B) there is the whole matter of who exactly is responsible in the gospel of Luke for correcting the gospel of Mark. Is it the same person who wrote Acts? Is it Marcion? Is it an editor who corrected Marcion before the final editor of Luke-Acts came along? Very complex matters.
Since gMark made it into the NT, I don’t see how Luke could have regarded gMark as an unimportant text.
But Paul works! What are some of those flagrant examples from all over the place of Luke-Acts correcting Paul in a way similar to how James corrects the epistle to the Romans?
Well at least these:

1) Paul says, “[it pleased God] to reveal his son in me” (Galatians 1:16), whereas Luke makes it a miraculous apparition, audible and visible, with surrounding witnesses.

2) Luke corrects Paul’s fervent declaration that “immediately he did not consult with flesh and blood” after his conversion, but instead went off to Arabia. According to Acts, Jesus tells Paul “get up and enter the city,” ie Damascus, where Paul is baptized by Ananias and receives the holy spirit from a flesh and blood disciple.

2) Paul’s speech to the Athenians in Acts about God’s kindly disposition towards the ignorant heathen, as opposed to what Paul himself says in Romans 1 (i.e., that gentiles have no excuse for their ignorance and failure to give God glory).

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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:57 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:40 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:08 pm
Mark, if you mean the gospel, does not really work for me in this context, since (A) the gospel itself is anonymous, and therefore "Luke" may not have thought he was contradicting anyone important to his narrative about the early church, and (B) there is the whole matter of who exactly is responsible in the gospel of Luke for correcting the gospel of Mark. Is it the same person who wrote Acts? Is it Marcion? Is it an editor who corrected Marcion before the final editor of Luke-Acts came along? Very complex matters.
Since gMark made it into the NT, I don’t see how Luke could have regarded gMark as an unimportant text.
I am not sure you are understanding my objection, but it does not matter, since, like I said, there are too many moving parts to this aspect of the argument to really impact the current discussion (to my satisfaction) with any force.
Well at least these:

1) Paul says, “[it pleased God] to reveal his son in me” (Galatians 1:16), whereas Luke makes it a miraculous apparition, audible and visible, with surrounding witnesses.

2) Luke corrects Paul’s fervent declaration that “immediately he did not consult with flesh and blood” after his conversion, but instead went off to Arabia. According to Acts, Jesus tells Paul “get up and enter the city,” ie Damascus, where Paul is baptized by Ananias and receives the holy spirit from a flesh and blood disciple.

2) Paul’s speech to the Athenians in Acts about God’s kindly disposition towards the ignorant heathen, as opposed to what Paul himself says in Romans 1 (i.e., that gentiles have no excuse for their ignorance and failure to give God glory).
Okay! Thanks for these. I can kind of see where you are coming from, I think. I am not sure these examples are what I am after, but I will give them some thought. I appreciate the response.
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davidmartin
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Re: Did Luke write the epistle of James?

Post by davidmartin » Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:22 am

Is there a hint that Paul really is undermining the Law in the way James says others are saying?
doesn't clearly Paul do this in his letters? surely it's more than a hint
i think what lays behind Paul's idea is a conviction that 'some new thing' now exists. this is what i was trying to say to John2
'some new thing' existed before Paul which he takes further into arguments against the law or repurposing the law
i see no reason to think Paul's opponents were not doing the same thing as he was - taking 'some new thing' in their own particular direction
I bet the 'original Jewish Christians' were pragmatic and followed the law as well, seen through the lens of 'something new' but wouldn't have required gentiles to follow it so long as they were also experiencing 'something new'. This early position isn't a million miles from what Acts ends up presenting.. it goes full circle. But i see any attempt to see either Paul or the Nazarenes as the 'original Christians' is a bit doomed - with Paul closer to them though

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