James (New Testament Readings)

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James, the son of Zebedee and James, the son of Alphaeus , but it is unlikely that either of these wrote the letter. The other apostle James, the son of Alphaeus, is not prominent in the Scriptural record, and very little is known about him. Rather, evidence points to James, the brother of Jesus , to whom Jesus evidently had made a special appearance after his resurrection described in the New Testament. This James was prominent among the disciples. From the middle of the 3rd century, patristic authors cited the Epistle as written by James, the brother of Jesus and a leader of the Jerusalem church.

Paul described him as "the brother of the Lord" in Galatians 1: Pseudonymous authorship 3 above implies that the person named "James" is respected and doubtless well known.

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Moreover, this James, brother of Jesus, is honored by the epistle written and distributed after the lifetime of James, the brother of Jesus. John Calvin and others suggested that the author was the Apostle James, son of Alphaeus , who is referred to as James the Less. The Protestant reformer Martin Luther denied it was the work of an apostle and termed it an "epistle of straw" [14] as compared to some other books in the New Testament, partly because of the conflict he thought it raised with Paul on the doctrine of justification see below.

Many scholars consider the epistle to be written in the late 1st or early 2nd centuries: It contains no reference to the events in Jesus' life, but it bears striking testimony to Jesus' words. Jesus' sayings are embedded in James' exhortations in a form that is clearly not dependent on the written Gospels. If written by James the brother of Jesus, it would have been written sometime before AD 69 or AD 62 , when he was martyred.

Jerusalem would also be the place of writing. The earliest extant manuscripts of James usually date to the mid-to-late 3rd century. James is considered New Testament wisdom literature: The content of James is directly parallel, in many instances, to sayings of Jesus found in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, i.

According to James Tabor , the epistle of James contains "no fewer than thirty direct references, echoes, and allusions to the teachings of Jesus found in the Q source. Some view the epistle as having no overarching outline: The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "the subjects treated of in the Epistle are many and various; moreover, St.

James not infrequently, whilst elucidating a certain point, passes abruptly to another, and presently resumes once more his former argument. Others view the letter as having only broad topical or thematic structure. They generally organize James under three Ralph Martin [22] to seven Luke Johnson [23] general key themes or segments.

A third group believes that James was more purposeful in structuring his letter, linking each paragraph theologically and thematically:.



James, like the gospel writers, can be seen as a purposeful theologian, carefully weaving his smaller units together into larger fabrics of thought and using his overall structure to prioritize his key themes. The third view of the structuring of James is a historical approach that is supported by scholars who are not content with leaving the book as "New Testament wisdom literature, like a small book of proverbs" or "like a loose collection of random pearls dropped in no particular order onto a piece of string.

A fourth group uses modern discourse analysis or Greco-Roman rhetorical structures to describe the structure of James.

Understanding the circumstances of James' writing helps scholars better understand James' organization of the letter. They view the epistle as having a legitimate purpose for its composition, a response to the suffering of its recipients. A journal article [28] explores a violent historical background behind the epistle and offers the suggestion that it was indeed written by James, the brother of Jesus, and it was written before AD 62, the year he was killed.

It continued into the 60s, four years before James was killed. War broke out with Rome and would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the people.


The epistle is renowned for exhortations on fighting poverty and caring for the poor in practical ways 1: Worldly wisdom is rejected and people are exhorted to embrace heavenly wisdom, which includes peacemaking and pursuing righteousness and justice 3: This approach sees the epistle as a real letter [30] with a real immediate purpose: It contains the following famous passage concerning salvation and justification:. Can that faith save him?

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Even the demons believe—and shudder! That passage has been cited in Christian theological debates, especially regarding the doctrine of justification. Gaius Marius Victorinus 4th century associated James's teaching on works with the heretical Symmachian sect, followers of Symmachus the Ebionite , and openly questioned whether James' teachings were heretical. This passage has also been contrasted with the teachings of Paul the Apostle on justification.

Some scholars even believe that the passage is a response to Paul. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have historically argued that the passage disproves the doctrine of justification by faith alone or sola fide , [35] [36] The early and many modern Protestants resolve the apparent conflict between James and Paul regarding faith and works in alternate ways from the Catholics and Orthodox: Paul was dealing with one kind of error while James was dealing with a different error. The errorists Paul was dealing with were people who said that works of the law were needed to be added to faith in order to help earn God's favor.

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Paul countered this error by pointing out that salvation was by faith alone apart from deeds of the law Galatians 2: Paul also taught that saving faith is not dead but alive, showing thanks to God in deeds of love Galatians 5: James was dealing with errorists who said that if they had faith they didn't need to show love by a life of faith James 2: James countered this error by teaching that faith is alive, showing itself to be so by deeds of love James 2: James and Paul both teach that salvation is by faith alone and also that faith is never alone but shows itself to be alive by deeds of love that express a believer's thanks to God for the free gift of salvation by faith in Jesus.

The epistle is also the chief biblical text for the Anointing of the Sick. Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

The Epistle of James - Audio Bible Reading (New Testament / NASB)

Wells suggested that the passage was evidence of late authorship of the epistle, on the grounds that the healing of the sick being done through an official body of presbyters elders indicated a considerable development of ecclesiastical organisation "whereas in Paul's day to heal and work miracles pertained to believers indiscriminately I Corinthians, XII: The Epistle was first explicitly referred to and quoted by Origen of Alexandria , and possibly a bit earlier by Irenaeus of Lyons [41] as well as Clement of Alexandria in a lost work according to Eusebius , although it was not mentioned by Tertullian , who was writing at the end of the Second Century.

Today, virtually all denominations of Christianity consider this book to be a canonical epistle of the New Testament. In the first centuries of the Church the authenticity of the Epistle was doubted by some, including Theodore , Bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia. Because of the silence of several of the western churches regarding it, Eusebius classes it among the Antilegomena or contested writings Historia ecclesiae , 3.

Jerome gives a similar appraisal but adds that with time it had been universally admitted. Its late recognition in the Church, especially in the West, may be explained by the fact that it was written for or by Jewish Christians , and therefore not widely circulated among the Gentile Churches.

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James 1 NIV - James, a servant of God and of the Lord - Bible Gateway

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