James, epistle of


James, epistle of
Addressed to a group in the Church, probably of Jewish background, and suffering poverty. It is a plea for good works, such as compassion (2:14–26) and honesty (4:11–12). It deprecates worldliness (Jas. 4:4) and obsequiousness to the well-off (Jas. 2:3). The epistle was little esteemed by Martin Luther, who reckoned its exhortation to good works to be contradicting Paul's doctrine of justification by faith and not works. But as the good works which James urges are not the works of the Law which Paul does not wish to impose upon his Gentile [[➝ Gentiles]] converts, such as circumcision, there is therefore no real conflict between James and Paul. James is worried that the community is becoming obsessed with money (Jas. 1:11) and gossip (4:11) and emphasises in general the ethics of speech (1:19–26; 3:1–12).
It is uncertain who the ‘James’ of 1:1 might be. Traditionally, he has been regarded as the Lord's brother, in Jerusalem, the only James who could write with such authority. But could he write such Greek? It is true that Greek was more widely known and spoken in Palestine than used to be asserted by scholars, so it is not impossible that he wrote the epistle. More depends on the apparent knowledge of Paul's epistles (2:19–20); such knowledge would require a date later than James, who is reported by the historian Eusebius and by Josephus [[➝ Josephus, Flavius]] to have been martyred before 70 CE. If the epistle is pseudonymous, it may have been formed from a miscellaneous compendium of advice from Jewish Christian sources. An editor gave a unified structure to the homilies and used the name of James as author.

Dictionary of the Bible.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • JAMES, EPISTLE OF —    a Catholic epistle of the New Testament, presumed to have been written by James, the brother of the Lord, addressed to Jewish Christians who, in accepting Christianity, had not renounced Judaism, and the sphere in which it moves is that of… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • James, Epistle of Saint — • The author is commonly identified with the Lord s brother, the Bishop of Jerusalem; the view that the Lord s brother must be identified with James, the son of Alpheus, is by far the most probable Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

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  • Epistle of James — The Epistle of James is a book in the Christian New Testament. The author identifies himself as James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ , traditionally understood as James the Just, the brother of Jesus (see Authorship and… …   Wikipedia

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  • Epistle to the Galatians —     Epistle to the Galatians     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Epistle to the Galatians     GALATIA     In the course of centuries, gallic tribes, related to those that invaded Italy and sacked Rome, wandered east through Illyricum and Pannonia. At… …   Catholic encyclopedia

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  • Epistle (in Scripture) — • The Old Testament exhibits two periods in its idea of an epistle: first, it presents the epistle under the general concept of a book or a writing; secondly, it regards the epistle as a distinct literary form. The New Testament presents a very… …   Catholic encyclopedia


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