Epistle Of James
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
1. The author claims to be ‘James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ’ ( James 1:1 ). He is usually identified with the Lord’s brother the ‘bishop’ of Jerusalem, not a member of the Twelve, but an apostle in the wider sense (see James 3:1-18 ). The name is common, and the writer adds no further note of identification. This fact makes for the authenticity of the address. If the Epistle had been pseudonymous, the writer would have defined the position of the James whose authority he wished to claim, and the same objection holds good against any theory of interpolation. Or again, if it had been written by a later James under his own name, he must have distinguished himself from his better known namesakes. The absence of description supports the common view of the authorship of the letter; it is a mark of modesty, the brother of the Lord not wishing to insist on his relationship after the flesh; it also points to a consciousness of authority; the writer expected to be listened to, and knew that his mere name was a sufficient description of himself. So Jude writes merely as ‘the brother of James.’ It has indeed been doubted whether a Jew of his position could have written such good Greek as we find in this Epistle, but we know really very little of the scope of Jewish education; there was every opportunity for intercourse with Greeks in Galilee, and a priori arguments of this nature can at most be only subsidiary. If indeed the late date, suggested by some, be adopted, the possibility of the brother of the Lord being the author is excluded, since he probably died in 62; otherwise there is nothing against the ordinary view. If that be rejected, the author is entirely unknown. More will be said in the rest of the article on the subject; but attention must be called to the remarkable coincidence in language between this Epistle and the speech of James in Acts 15:1-41 .
2. Date . The only indications of date are derived from indirect internal evidence, the interpretation of which depends on the view taken of the main problems raised by the Epistle. It is variously put, either as one of the earliest of NT writings (so Mayor and most English writers), or among the very latest (the general German opinion). The chief problem is the relationships to other writings of the NT . The Epistle has striking resemblances to several books of the NT, and these resemblances admit of very various explanations.
( a ) Most important is its relation to St Paul . It has points of contact with Romans: James 1:22; James 4:11 and Romans 2:13 (hearers and doers of the law); James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:3-5 (the gradual work of temptation or tribulation); James 4:11 and Romans 2:1; Romans 14:4 (the critic self-condemned); James 1:21 , James 4:1 and Romans 7:23; Romans 13:12; and the contrast between James 2:21 and Romans 4:1 (the faith of Abraham). Putting the latter aside for the moment, it is hard to pronounce on the question of priority. Sanday-Headlam ( Romans , p. lxxix.) see ‘no resemblance in style sufficient to prove literary connexion’; there are no parallels in order, and similarities of language can mostly be explained from OT and LXX [Note: Septuagint.] . Mayor, on the other hand, supposes that St. Paul is working up hints received from James.
The main question turns upon the apparent opposition between James and Paul with regard to ‘ faith and works .’ The chief passages are ch. 2, esp. James 2:17; James 2:21 ff., and Romans 3:28; Romans 3:4 , Galatians 2:16 . Both writers quote Genesis 15:6 , and deal with the case of Abraham as typical, but they draw from it apparently opposite conclusions St. James that a man is justified, as Abraham was, by works and not by faith alone; St. Paul that justification is not by works but by faith. We may say at once with regard to the doctrinal question that it is generally recognized that there is here no real contradiction between the two. The writers mean different things by ‘faith.’ St. James means a certain belief, mainly intellectual, in the one God ( James 2:19 ), the fundamental creed of the Jew, to which a belief in Christ has been added. To St. Paul ‘faith’ is essentially ‘faith in Christ’ ( Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26 etc.). This faith has been in his own experience a tremendous overmastering force, bringing with it a convulsion of his whole nature; he has put on Christ, died with Him, and risen to a new life. Such an experience lies outside the experience of a St. James, a typically ‘good’ man, with a practical, matter of fact, and somewhat limited view of life. To him ‘conduct is three-fourths of life,’ and he claims rightly that men shall authenticate in practice their verbal professions. To a St. Paul, with an overwhelming experience working on a mystical temperament, such a demand is almost meaningless. To him faith is the new life in Christ, and of course it brings forth the fruits of the Spirit, if it exists at all; faith must always work by love ( Galatians 5:6 ). He indeed guards himself carefully against any idea that belief in the sense of verbal confession or intellectual assent is enough in itself ( Romans 2:6-20 ), and defines ‘the works’ which he disparages as ‘works of the law’ ( Romans 3:20; Romans 3:28 ). Each writer, in fact, would agree with the doctrine of the other when he came to understand it, though St. James’s would appear to St. Paul as insufficient, and St. Paul’s to St. James as somewhat too profound and mystical (see Sanday-Headlam, Romans , pp. 102 ff.).
It is unfortunately not so easy to explain the literary relation between the two. At first sight the points of contact are so striking that we are inclined to say that one must have seen the words of the other. Lightfoot, however, has shown ( Galatians 3:1-29 , pp. 157 ff.) that the history of Abraham, and in particular Genesis 15:6 , figured frequently in Jewish theological discussions. The verse is quoted in 1Ma 2:52 , ten times by Philo, and in the Talmudic treatise Mechilta . But the antithesis between ‘faith and works’ seems to be essentially Christian; we cannot, therefore, on the ground of the Jewish use of Genesis 15:1-21 , deny any relationship between the writings of the two Apostles. This much, at least, seems clear; St. James was not writing with Romans before him, and with the deliberate intention of contradicting St. Paul. His arguments, so regarded, are obviously inadequate, and make no attempt, even superficially, to meet St. Paul’s real position. It is, however, quite possible that he may have written as he did to correct not St. Paul himself, but misunderstandings of his teaching, which no doubt easily arose ( 2 Peter 3:16 ). On the other hand, if with Mayor we adopt a very early date for the Epistle, St. Paul may equally well be combating exaggerations of his fellow-Apostle’s position, which indeed in itself must have appeared insufficient to him; we are reminded of the Judaizers ‘who came from James’ before the Council ( Acts 15:24 ). St. Paul, according to this view, preserves all that is valuable in St. James by his insistence on life and conduct, while he supplements it with a profounder teaching, and guards against misinterpretations by a more careful definition of terms; e.g. in Galatians 2:16 (cf. James 2:24 ) he defines ‘works’ as ‘works of the law,’ and ‘faith’ as ‘faith in Jesus Christ.’ We must also bear in mind the possibility that the resemblance in language on this and other subjects may have been due to personal intercourse between the two ( Galatians 1:19 , Acts 15:1-41 ); in discussing these questions together they may well have come to use very similar terms and illustrations; and this possibility makes the question of priority in writing still more complicated. It is, then, very hard to pronounce with any certainty on the date of the Epistle from literary considerations. On the whole they make for an early date. Such a date is also suggested by the undeveloped theology (note the nontechnical and unusual word for ‘begat’ in James 1:18 ) and the general circumstances of the Epistle (see below); and the absence of any reference to the Gentile controversy may indicate a date before the Council of Acts 15:1-41 , i.e. before 52 a.d.
( b ) Again, the points of contact with 1Peter ( James 1:10 , Jam 5:19; 1 Peter 1:24; 1 Peter 4:8 ) and Hebrews ( James 2:25; Hebrews 11:31 ), though striking, are inconclusive as to date. It is difficult to acquiesce in the view that James is ‘secondary’ throughout, and makes a general use of the Epp. of NT.
( c ) It will be convenient to treat here the relation to the Gospels and particularly to the Sermon on the Mount , though this is still less decisive as to date. The variations are too strong to allow us to suppose a direct use of the Gospels; the sayings of Christ were long quoted in varying forms, and in James 5:12 Samt. James has a remarkable agreement with Justin ( Ap , i. 16), as against Matthew 5:37 . The chief parallels are the condemnation of ‘hearers only’ ( James 1:22; James 1:25 , Matthew 7:25 , John 13:17 ), of critics ( James 4:11 , Matthew 7:1-5 ), of worldliness ( James 1:10 , James 2:5-6 etc., Matthew 6:19; Matthew 6:24 , Luke 6:24 ); the teaching about prayer ( James 1:5 etc., Matthew 7:7 , Mark 11:23 ), poverty ( James 2:5 , Luke 6:20 ), humility ( James 4:10 , Matthew 23:12 ), the tree and its fruits ( James 3:11 , Matthew 7:16; see Salmon, Introd. to NT 9 p. 455). This familiarity with our Lord’s language agrees well with the hypothesis that the author was one who had been brought up in the same home, and had often listened to His teaching, though not originally a disciple; it can hardly, however, he said necessarily to imply such a close personal relationship.
3. The type of Christianity implied in the Epistle . We are at once struck by the fact that the direct Christian references are very few. Christ is only twice mentioned by name ( James 1:1 , James 2:21 ); not a word is said of His death or resurrection, His example of patience ( James 5:10-11; contrast 1 Peter 2:21 ), or of prayer ( James 5:17; contrast Hebrews 5:7 ). Hence the suggestion has been made by Spitta that we have really a Jewish document which has been adapted by a Christian writer, as happened, e.g. , with 2 Esdras and the Didache . The answer is obvious, that no editor would have been satisfied with so slight a revision. We find, indeed, on looking closer, that the Christian element is greater than appears at first, and also that it is of such a nature that it cannot be regarded as interpolated. The parallels with our Lord’s teaching already noticed, could not be explained as due to independent borrowing from earlier Jewish sources, even on the very doubtful assumption that any such existed containing the substance of His teaching. Again, we find Christ mentioned (probably) in connexion with the Parousia ( James 5:7-8 ) [ James 5:6; James 5:11 are probably not references to the crucifixion, and ‘the Lord’ is not original in James 1:12 ]; ‘beloved brethren’ ( James 1:16; James 1:19 , James 2:5 ), the new birth ( James 1:18 ), the Kingdom ( James 2:5 ), the name which is blasphemed ( James 2:7 ), and the royal law of liberty ( James 1:25 , James 2:8 ) are all predominantly Christian ideas. It cannot, however, be denied that the general tone of the Epistle is Judaic. The type of organization implied is primitive, and is described mainly in Jewish phraseology: synagogue ( James 2:2 ), elders of the Church ( James 5:14 ), anointing with oil and the connexion of sin and sickness ( ib. ). Abraham is ‘our father’ ( James 2:21 ), and God bears the OT title ‘Lord of Sabaoth’ ( James 5:4 ) [only here in NT]. This tone, however, is in harmony with the traditional character of James (see James 3:1-18 ), and with the address ‘to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion’ ( James 1:1 ), taken in its literal sense. St. James remained to the end of his life a strict Jew, noted for his devotion to the Law ( Acts 15:1-41; Acts 21:20 ), and in the Epistle the Law, though transformed, is to the writer almost a synonym for the Gospel. His argument as to the paramount importance of conduct is exactly suited to the atmosphere in which he lived, and of which he realized the dangers. The Rabbis could teach that ‘they cool the flames of Gehinnom for him who reads the Shema [ Deuteronomy 6:4 ],’ and Justin ( Dial . 141) bears witness to the claim of the Jews, ‘that if they are sinners and know God, the Lord will not impute to them sin.’ His protest is against a ceremonialism which neglects the weightier matters of the Law; cf. esp. James 1:27 , where ‘religion’ means religion on its outward side. His Epistle then is Judaic, because it shows us Christianity as it appeared to the ordinary Jewish Christian, to whom it was a something added to his old religion, not a revolutionary force altering its whole character, as it was to St. Paul. It seems to belong to the period described in the early chapters of the Acts, when the separation between Jews and Christians was not complete; we have already, on other grounds, seen that it seems to come before the Council. Salmon ( Introd. to NT p. 456) points out that its attitude towards the rich agrees with what we know of Jewish society during this period, when the tyranny of the wealthy Sadducean party was at its height (cf. Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . XX. viii. 8; ix. 2); there are still apparently local Jewish tribunals ( James 2:6 ). The movement from city to city supposed in James 4:13 may point to the frequent Jewish migrations for purposes of trade, and the authority which the writer exercises over the Diaspora may be paralleled by that which the Sanhedrin claimed outside Palestine. We may note that there are indications that the Epistle has in mind the needs and circumstances of special communities ( James 2:1 ff., James 4:1 , James 5:13 ); it reads, too, not like a formal treatise, but as words of advice given in view of particular cases.
On the other hand, many Continental critics see in these conditions the description of a later age, when Christianity had had time to become formal and secularized, and moral degeneracy was covered by intellectual orthodoxy. The address is supposed to be a literary device, the Church being the true Israel of God, or to have in view scattered Essene conventicles. It is said that the absence of Christian doctrine shows that the Epistle was not written when it was in the process of formation, but at an altogether later period. This argument is not altogether easy to follow, and, as we have seen, the indications, though separately indecisive, yet all combine to point to an early date. Perhaps more may be said for the view that the Epistle incorporates Jewish fragments, e.g. in James 3:1-18 , James 4:11 to James 5:6; the apostrophe of the rich who are outside the brotherhood is rather startling. We may indeed believe that the Epistle has not yet yielded its full secret. It cannot be denied that it omits much that we should expect to find in a Christian document of however early a date, and that its close is very abrupt. Of the theories, however, which have so far been advanced, the view that it is a primitive Christian writing at least presents the fewest difficulties, though it still leaves much unexplained.
4. Early quotations and canonicity . The Epistle presents points of contact with Clement of Rome, Hermas, and probably with IrenÃ¦ns, but is first quoted as Scripture by Origen. Eusebius, though he quotes it himself without reserve, mentions the fact that few ‘old writers’ have done so ( HE ii. 23), and classes it among the ‘disputed’ books of the Canon (iii. 25). It is not mentioned in the Muratorian Fragment, but is included in the Peshitta (the Syriac version), together with 1Peter and 1 John of the Catholic Epistles. The evidence shows that it was acknowledged in the East earlier than in the West, possibly as being addressed to the Eastern (?) Dispersion, though its apparent use by Clem. Rom. and Hermas suggests that it may have been written in Rome. The scarcity of quotations from it and its comparative neglect may be due to its Jewish and non-doctrinal tone, as well as to the facts that it did not claim to be Apostolic and seemed to contradict St. Paul. Others before Luther may well have found it ‘an epistle of straw.’
5. Style and teaching . As has been said, the tone of the Epistle is largely Judaic. In addition to the Jewish features already pointed out, we may note its insistence on righteousness, and its praise of wisdom and poverty, which are characteristic of Judaism at its best. Its illustrations are drawn from the OT, and its style frequently recalls that of Proverbs, and the Prophets, particularly on its sterner side. The worldly are ‘adulteresses’ ( James 4:4; cf. the OT conception of Israel as the bride of Jehovah, whether faithful or unfaithful), and the whole Epistle is full of warnings and denunciations; 54 imperatives have been counted in twice as many verses. The quotations, however, are mainly from the LXX [Note: Septuagint.]; ‘greeting’ ( James 1:1 ) is the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] formula for the Heb. ‘peace,’ and occurs again in NT only in the letter of Acts 15:23 . The points of contact with our Lord’s teaching have been already noticed; the Epistle follows Him also in its fondness for metaphors from nature (cf. the parables), and in the poetic element which appears continually; James 1:17 is actually a hexameter, but it has not been recognized as a quotation. The style is vivid and abrupt, sometimes obscure, with a great variety of vocabulary; there are 70 words not found elsewhere in NT. There is no close connexion of ideas, or logical development of the subject; a word seems to suggest the following paragraph ( e.g. ch. 1). Accordingly it is useless to attempt a summary of the Epistle. Its main purpose was to encourage endurance under persecution and oppression, together with consistency of life; and its leading ideas are the dangers of speech, of riches, of strife, and of worldliness, and the value of true faith, prayer, and wisdom. The Epistle is essentially ‘pragmatic’; i.e. it insists that the test of belief lies in ‘value for conduct.’ It does not, indeed, ignore the deeper side; it has its theology with its teaching about regeneration, faith, and prayer, but the writer’s main interest lies in ethics. The condition of the heathen world around made it necessary to insist on the value of a consistent life. That was Christianity; and neither doctrinal nor moral problems, as of the origin of evil, trouble him. The Epistle does not reach the heights of a St. Paul or a St. John, but it has its value. It presents, sharply and in emphasis, a side of Christianity which is always in danger of being forgotten, and the practical mind in particular will always feel the force of its practical message.
C. W. Emmet.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
This was written to the twelve tribes which were in the dispersion, viewing them as still in relationship with God, though it was only the Jewish remnant, now become Christians, who professed the faith, which the Spirit gave, in the true Messiah. The moral measure of the life presented is the same as when the Lord was here among His disciples: it does not rise up to the position and principles of the church as found in Paul's epistles. The believers being in the midst of the Israelites, some of whom merely professed faith in Christ, accounts for the apostles address to the mass and the warning to professors. The epistle belongs in character to the transitional time in the early part of the Acts, when the believers went on with the temple worship, etc., before Paul's testimony came in. In some Greek MSS this epistle follows the Acts, preceding Paul's writings.
Referring to the various temptations into which saints fall, the apostle bids them count it all joy, inasmuch as the proving of faith works endurance. But this last must have her perfect work that they might be lacking in nothing. If wisdom be lacking, it should be sought in faith from God. The man who doubts will get nothing.
The poor and the rich had both that in which they could glory; the one in his exaltation, the other in his humiliation, being able rightly to judge of that which is but for a moment. The crown of life is for him who endures trial for those in fact who love God.
There is however temptation from within, which is not from God, and this results in sin and death. What is from God is good, for He is the Father of lights. He has begotten us by the word of truth as a kind of first-fruits of His creatures. Hence let every one be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to wrath: that is, swift to take in, but slow to give forth. The implanted word, received with meekness, is able to save the soul. But the believer must do it as well as hear it. If the tongue be unbridled, a man's religion is vain. Pure religion before God and the Father is deeply practical both as regards human need and separation from the world.
Chapter 2. The saints are warned against respect of persons in their meetings, the rich honoured above the poor. Did not rich men oppress them and blaspheme Christ? If indeed they kept the royal law (to love their neighbour as themselves) they did well. But they transgressed it in respecting persons. They should speak and act as those that were to be judged by the law of liberty.
The apostle then speaks of the folly of saying one had faith apart from works. Where faith is alive there will be these latter. The question is viewed here from man's standpoint: " Show me thy faith," etc. Paul views it from that of God, who reckons people who believe "righteous without works." Both need to be apprehended.
Chapter 3. The danger of being many teachers is now the theme. The tongue is a small member, but is capable of great effects, and must therefore be restrained. A man who does not offend in word is a 'perfect man.' A wise man will show his works out of a good conversation with meekness of wisdom. This is in contrast to the mere self-constituted teacher. Heavenly wisdom leads to peace; but it is first pure; that is, God has His place in the soul; then peaceable, self has no place; while the outcome as regards others is that it is full of mercy and good fruits.
Chapter 4. The evil of lust and the world is set in contrast to the action of the Spirit in us. Lowliness, submission to God, and resistance to the devil, are urged upon the believers. They are warned against speaking evil one of another, in doing which they judged the law, which inculcates loving one's neighbour as oneself. None should exercise self-will; in going here or there the will of the Lord should be submitted to.
Chapter 5. The unrighteousness, self-indulgence, and oppression of the rich are solemnly inveighed against, and they are reminded of the day of retribution. The brethren are exhorted to patience in view of the coming of the Lord, while they are warned against a spirit of mutual complaint, lest they themselves should be judged. The prophets are held forth as examples of suffering and patience. Those who endure are called blessed. The end of the Lord, to which saints in trial must look, shows Him to be very pitiful and of tender mercy. A warning follows against the evil of swearing. Prayer is the resource of the suffering; singing psalms that of the happy. Encouraging instructions are given in relation to cases of sickness. Forgiveness and healing are in the governmental dealings of God. The saints are exhorted to mutual confession and to prayer, the efficacy of which is then enlarged on.
The epistle closes somewhat abruptly with a short statement of the result achieved in the restoration of any who had erred from the truth; a soul is saved from death, and a multitude of sins are covered.
The epistle was doubtless written by James the son of Alphaeus; from whence it is not known, and its date is only conjectural, varying from A.D. 45 to 60. In the common versions it is called "the general, or catholic epistle," probably meaning no more than that it is not addressed to any particular assembly; but the word 'general' is not in any of the earlier Greek copies.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
"Justification by works," which James contends for, is justification before man, the justification of our profession of faith by a consistent life. Paul contends for the doctrine of "justification by faith;" but that is justification before God, a being regarded and accepted as just by virtue of the righteousness of Christ, which is received by faith.
Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.
Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'James, Epistle of'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/j/james-epistle-of.html. 1897.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
I. Characteristics of the Epistle
II. Author of the Epistle
III. The Style of the Epistle
2. Good Greek
6. Unlikeness to Paul
7. Likeness to Jesus
IV. Date of the Epistle
V. History of the Epistle
VI. Message of the Epistle to Our Times
1. To the Pietist
2. To the Sociologist
3. To the Student of the Life and Character of Jesus
I. Characteristics of the Epistle
The Epistle of James is the most Jewish writing in the New Testament. The Gospel according to Matthew was written for the Jews. The Epistle to the Hebrews is addressed explicitly to them. The Apocalypse is full of the spirit of the Old Testament. The Epistle of Jude is Jewish too. Yet all of these books have more of the distinctively Christian element in them than we can find in the Epistle of James. If we eliminate two or three passages containing references to Christ, the whole epistle might find its place just as properly in the Canon of the Old Testament as in that of the New Testament, as far as its substance of doctrine and contents is concerned. That could not be said of any other book in the New Testament. There is no mention of the incarnation or of the resurrection, the two fundamental facts of the Christian faith. The word "gospel" does not occur in the epistle. There is no suggestion that the Messiah has appeared and no presentation of the possibility of redemption through Him. The teaching throughout is that of a lofty morality which aims at the fulfillment of the requirements of the Mosaic law. It is not strange therefore that Spitta and others have thought that we have in the Epistle of James a treatise written by an unconverted Jew which has been adapted to Christian use by the interpolation of the two phrases containing the name of Christ in James 1:1 and James 2:1 . Spitta thinks that this can be the only explanation of the fact that we have here an epistle practically ignoring the life and work of Jesus and every distinctively Christian doctrine, and without a trace of any of the great controversies in the early Christian church or any of the specific features of its propaganda. This judgment is a superficial one, and rests upon superficial indications rather than any appreciation of the underlying spirit and principles of the book. The spirit of Christ is here, and there is no need to label it. The principles of this epistle are the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. There are more parallels to that Sermon in this epistle than can be found anywhere else in the New Testament in the same space. The epistle represents the idealization of Jewish legalism under the transforming influence of the Christian motive and life. It is not a theological discussion. It is an ethical appeal. It has to do with the outward life for the most part, and the life it pictures is that of a Jew informed with the spirit of Christ. The spirit is invisible in the epistle as in the individual man. It is the body which appears and the outward life with which that body has to do. The body of the epistle is Jewish, and the outward life to which it exhorts is that of a profoundly pious Jew. The Jews familiar with the Old Testament would read this epistle and find its language and tone that to which they were accustomed in their sacred books. James is evidently written by a Jew for Jews. It is Jewish in character throughout. This is apparent in the following particulars: (1) the epistle is addressed to the 12 tribes which are of the Dispersion (11). The Jews were scattered abroad through the ancient world. From Babylon to Rome, wherever any community of them might be gathered for commercial or social purposes, these exhortations could be carried and read. Probably the epistle was circulated most widely in Syria and Asia Minor, but it may have gone out to the ends of the earth. Here and there in the ghettos of the Roman Empire, groups of the Jewish exiles would gather and listen while one of their number read this letter from home. All of its terms and its allusions would recall familiar home scenes. (2) Their meeting-place is called "your synagogue" ( James 2:2 ). (3) Abraham is mentioned as "our father" ( James 2:21 ). (4) God is given the Old Testament name, "the Lord of Sabaoth" ( James 5:4 ). (5) The law is not to be spoken against nor judged, but reverently and loyally obeyed. It is a royal law to which every loyal Jew will be subject. It is a law of liberty, to be freely obeyed ( James 2:8-12; James 4:11 ). (6) The sins of the flesh are not inveighed against in the epistle, but those sins to which the Jews were more conspicuously liable, such as the love of money and the distinction which money may bring ( James 2:2-4 ), worldliness and pride ( James 4:4-6 ), impatience and murmuring ( James 5:7-11 ), and other sins of the temper and tongue ( James 3:1-12; James 4:11 , James 4:12 ). (7) The illustrations of faithfulness and patience and prayer are found in Old Testament characters, in Abraham ( James 2:21 ), Rahab ( James 2:25 ), Job ( James 5:11 ), and Elijah ( James 5:17 , James 5:18 ). The whole atmosphere of the epistle is Jewish.
The writer of this epistle speaks as one having authority. He is not on his defense, as Paul so often is. There is no trace of apology in his presentation of the truth. His official position must have been recognized and unquestioned. He is as sure of his standing with his readers as he is of the absoluteness of his message.
No Old Testament lawgiver or Prophet was more certain that he spoke the word of the Lord. He has the vehemence of Elijah and the assured meekness of Moses. He has been called "the Amos of the New Testament," and there are paragraphs which recall the very expressions used by Amos and which are full of the same fiery eloquence and Prophetic fervor. Both fill their writings with metaphors drawn from the sky and the sea, from natural objects and domestic experiences. Both seem to be countrybred and to be in sympathy with simplicity and poverty. Both inveigh against the luxury and the cruelty of the idle rich, and both abhor the ceremonial and the ritual which are substituted for individual righteousness. Malachi was not the last of the Prophets. John the Baptist was not the last Prophet of the Old Dispensation. The writer of this epistle stands at the end of that Prophetic line, and he is greater than John the Baptist or any who have preceded him because he stands within the borders of the kingdom of Christ. He speaks with authority, as a messenger of God. He belongs to the goodly fellowship of the Prophets and of the apostles. He has the authority of both. There are 54 imperatives in the 108 verses of this epistle.
The epistle is interested in conduct more than in creed. It has very little formulated theology, less than any other epistle in the New Testament; but it insists upon practical morality throughout. It begins and it closes with an exhortation to patience and prayer. It preaches a gospel of good works, based upon love to God and love to man. It demands liberty, equality, fraternity for all. It enjoins humility and justice and peace. It prescribes singleness of purpose and steadfastness of soul. It requires obedience to the law, control of the passions, and control of the tongue. Its ideal is to be found in a good life, characterized by the meekness of wisdom. The writer of the epistle has caught the spirit of the ancient Prophets, but the lessons that he teaches are taken, for the most part, from the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha. His direct quotations are from the Pentateuch and the Book of Proverbs; but it has been estimated that there are 10 allusions to the Book of Proverbs, 6 to the Book of Job, 5 to the Book of Wisdom, and 15 to the Book of Ecclesiasticus. This Wisdom literature furnishes the staple of his meditation and the substance of his teaching. He has little or nothing to say about the great doctrines of the Christian church.
He has much to say about the wisdom that cometh down from above and is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy ( James 3:15-17 ). The whole epistle shows that the author had stored his mind with the rich treasure of the ancient wisdom, and his material, while offered as his own, is both old and new. The form is largely that of the Wisdom literature of the Jews. It has more parallels with Jesus the son of Sirach than with any writer of the sacred books.
The substance of its exhortation, however, is to be found in the Synoptics and more particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. Its wisdom is the wisdom of Jesus the son of Joseph, who is the Christ.
These are the three outstanding characteristics of this epistle In form and on the surface it is the most Jewish and least Christian of the writings in the New Testament. Its Christianity is latent and not apparent. Yet it is the most authoritative in its tone of any of the epistles in the New Testament, unless it be those of the apostle John. John must have occupied a position of undisputed primacy in the Christian church after the death of all the other apostles, when he wrote his epistles. It is noteworthy that the writer of this epistle assumes a tone of like authority with that of John. John was the apostle of love, Paul of faith, and Peter of hope. This writer is the apostle of good works, the apostle of the wisdom which manifests itself in peace and purity, mercy and morality, and in obedience to the royal law, the law of liberty. In its union of Jewish form, authoritative tone, and insistence upon practical morality, the epistle is unique among the New Testament books.
II. Author of the Epistle
The address of the epistle states that the writer is "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" ( James 1:1 ). The tradition of the church has identified this James with the brother of our Lord. Clement of Alexandria says that Peter and James and John, who were the three apostles most honored of the Lord, chose James, the Lord's brother, to be the bishop of Jerusalem after the Lord's ascension (Euseb., He, II, 1). This tradition agrees well with all the notices of James in the New Testament books. After the death of James the brother of John, Peter was thrown into prison, and having been miraculously released, he asked that the news be sent to James and to the brethren ( Acts 12:17 ). This James is evidently in authority in the church at this time. In the apostolical conference held at Jerusalem, after Peter and Paul and Barnabas had spoken, this same James sums up the whole discussion, and his decision is adopted by the assembly and formulated in a letter which has some very striking parallels in its phraseology to this epistle (Acts 15:6-29). When Paul came to Jerusalem for the last time he reported his work to James and all the elders present with him ( Acts 21:18 ). In the Epistle to the Galatians Paul says that at the time of one of his visits to Jerusalem he saw none of the apostles save Peter and James the Lord's brother ( Galatians 1:18 , Galatians 1:19 ). At another visit he received the right hand of fellowship from James and Cephas and John ( Galatians 2:9 ). At a later time certain who came from James to Antioch led Peter into backsliding from his former position of tolerance of the Gentiles as equals in the Christian church ( Galatians 2:12 ).
All of these references would lead us to suppose that James stood in a position of supreme authority in the mother-church at Jerusalem, the oldest church of Christendom. He presides in the assemblies of the church. He speaks the final and authoritative word. Peter and Paul defer to him. Paul mentions his name before that of Peter and John. When he was exalted to this leadership we do not know, but all indications seem to point to the fact that at a very early period James was the recognized executive authority in the church at Jerusalem, which was the church of Pentecost and the church of the apostles. All Jews looked to Jerusalem as the chief seat of their worship and the central authority of their religion. All Christian Jews would look to Jerusalem as the primitive source of their organization and faith, and the head of the church at Jerusalem would be recognized by them as their chief authority. The authoritative tone of this epistle comports well with this position of primacy ascribed to James.
All tradition agrees in describing James as a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a man of the most rigid and ascetic morality, faithful in his observance of all the ritual regulations of the Jewish faith. Hegesippus tells us that he was holy from his mother's womb. He drank no wine nor strong drink. He ate no flesh. He alone was permitted to enter with the priests into the holy place, and he was found there frequently upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, and his knees became hard like those of a camel in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God and asking forgiveness for the people (Euseb., He, II, 23). He was called James the Just. All had confidence in his sincerity and integrity, and many were persuaded by him to believe on the Christ. This Jew, faithful in the observance of all that the Jews held sacred, and more devoted to the temple-worship than the most pious among them, was a good choice for the head of the Christian church. The blood of David flowed in his veins. He had all the Jew's pride in the special privileges of the chosen race. The Jews respected him and the Christians revered him. No man among them commanded the esteem of the entire population as much as he.
Josephus (Ant., XX, ix) tells us that Ananus the high priest had James stoned to death, and that the most equitable of the citizens immediately rose in revolt against such a lawless procedure, and Ananus was deposed after only three months' rule. This testimony of Josephus simply substantiates all that we know from other sources concerning the high standing of James in the whole community. Hegesippus says that James was first thrown from a pinnacle of the temple, and then they stoned him because he was not killed by the fall, and he was finally beaten over the head with a fuller's club; and then he adds significantly, "Immediately Vespasian besieged them" (Euseb., He, II, 23). There would seem to have been quite a widespread conviction among both the Christians and the Jews that the afflictions which fell upon the holy city and the chosen people in the following years were in part a visitation because of the great crime of the murder of this just man. We can understand how a man with this reputation and character would write an epistle so Jewish in form and substance and so insistent in its demands for a practical morality as is the Epistle of James. All the characteristics of the epistle seem explicable on the supposition of authorship by James the brother of the Lord. We accept the church tradition without hesitation.
III. The Style of the Epistle
The sentence construction is simple and straightforward. It reminds us of the English of Bunyan and DeFoe. There is usually no good reason for misunderstanding anything James says. He puts his truth plainly, and the words he uses have no hidden or mystical meanings. His thought is transparent as his life.
2. Good Greek
It is somewhat surprising to find that the Greek of the Epistle of James is better than that of the other New Testament writers, with the single exception of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Of course this may be due to the fact that James had the services of an amanuensis who was a Greek scholar, or that his own manuscript was revised by such a man; but, although unexpected, it is not impossible that James himself may have been capable of writing such Greek as this.
It is not the good Greek of the classics, and it is not the poor and provincial Greek of Paul. There is more care for literary form than in the uncouth periods of the Gentile apostle, and the vocabulary would seem to indicate an acquaintance with the literary as well as the commercial and the conversational Greek. "Galilee was studded with Greek towns, and it was certainly in the power of any Galilean to gain a knowledge of Greek ... We may reasonably suppose that our author would not have scrupled to avail himself of the opportunities within his reach, so as to master the Greek language, and learn something of Greek philosophy. This would be natural, even if we think of James as impelled only by a desire to gain wisdom and knowledge for himself; but if we think of him also as the principal teacher of the Jewish believers, many of whom were Hellenists, instructed in the wisdom of Alexandria, then the natural bent would take the shape of duty: he would be a student of Greek in order that he might be a more effective instructor to his own people" (Mayor, The Epistle of St. James, ccxxxvi). The Greek of the epistle is the studied Greek of one who was not a native to it, but who had familiarized himself with its literature. James could have done so and the epistle may be proof that he did.
James is never content to talk in abstractions. He always sets a picture before his own eyes and those of his readers. He has the dramatic instinct. He has the secret of sustained interest. He is not discussing things in general but things in particular. He is an artist and believes in concrete realities. At the same time he has a touch of poetry in him, and a fine sense of the analogies running through all Nature and all life. The doubting man is like the sea spume ( James 1:6 ). The rich man fades away in his goings, even as the beauty of the flower falls and perishes ( James 1:11 ). The synagogue scene with its distinction between the rich and the poor is set before us with the clear-cut impressiveness of a cameo ( James 2:1-4 ). The Pecksniffian philanthropist, who seems to think that men can be fed not by bread alone but by the words that proceed magnificently from his mouth, is pilloried here for all time ( James 2:15 , James 2:16 ). The untamable tongue that is set on fire of hell is put in the full blaze of its world of iniquity, and the damage it does is shown to be like that of a forest fire ( James 3:1-12 ). The picture of the wisdom that comes from above with its sevenfold excellences of purity, peaceableness, gentleness, mercy, fruitfulness, impartiality, sincerity, is worthy to hang in the gallery of the world's masterpieces ( James 3:17 ). The vaunting tradesmen, whose lives are like vanishing vapor, stand there before the eyes of all in Jerusalem ( James 4:13-16 ). The rich, whose luxuries he describes even while he denounces their cruelties and prophesies their coming day of slaughter, are the rich who walk the streets of his own city ( James 5:1-6 ). His short sentences go like shots straight to the mark. We feel the impact and the impress of them. There is an energy behind them and a reality in them that makes them live in our thought. His abrupt questions are like the quick interrogations of a cross-examining lawyer ( James 2:4-7 , James 2:14 , James 2:16; James 3:11 , James 3:12; James 4:1 , James 4:4 , James 4:5 , James 4:12 , James 4:14 ). His proverbs have the intensity of the accumulated and compressed wisdom of the ages. They are irreducible minimums. They are memorable sayings, treasured in the speech of the world ever since his day.
Sometimes James adds sentence to sentence with the repetition of some leading word or phrase ( James 1:1-6 , James 1:19-24; James 3:2-8 ). It is the painful style of one who is not altogether at home with the language which he has chosen as the vehicle of his thought. It is the method by which a discussion could be continued indefinitely. Nothing but the vividness of the imagery and the intensity of the thought saves James from fatal monotony in the use of this device.
5. Figures of Speech
James has a keen eye for illustrations. He is not blind to the beauties and wonders of Nature. He sees what is happening on every hand, and he is quick to catch any homiletical suggestion it may hold. Does he stand by the seashore? The surge that is driven by the wind and tossed reminds him of the man who is unstable in all his ways, because he has no anchorage of faith, and his convictions are like driftwood on a sea of doubt ( James 1:6 ). Then he notices that the great ships are turned about by a small rudder, and he thinks how the tongue is a small member, but it accomplishes great things ( James 3:4 , James 3:5 ). Does he walk under the sunlight and rejoice in it as the source of so many good and perfect gifts? He sees in it an image of the goodness of God that is never eclipsed and never exhausted, unvarying for evermore ( James 1:17 ). He uses the natural phenomena of the land in which he lives to make his meaning plain at every turn: the flower of the field that passes away ( James 1:10 , James 1:11 ), the forest fire that sweeps the mountain side and like a living torch lights up the whole land ( James 3:5 ), the sweet and salt springs ( James 3:11 ), the fig trees and the olive trees and the vines ( James 3:12 ), the seed-sowing and the fruit-bearing ( James 3:18 ), the morning mist immediately lost to view ( James 4:14 ), the early and the latter rain for which the husbandman waiteth patiently ( James 5:7 ).
There is more of the appreciation of Nature in this one short epistle of Jas than in all the epistles of Paul put together. Human life was more interesting to Paul than natural scenery. However, James is interested in human life just as profoundly as Paul. He is constantly endowing inanimate things with living qualities. He represents sin as a harlot, conceiving and bringing forth death ( James 1:15 ). The word of truth has a like power and conceives and brings forth those who live to God's praise ( James 1:18 ). Pleasures are like joyful hosts of enemies in a tournament, who deck themselves bravely and ride forth with singing and laughter, but whose mission is to wage war and to kill ( James 4:1 , James 4:2 ). The laborers may be dumb in the presence of the rich because of their dependence and their fear, but their wages, fraudulently withheld, have a tongue, and cry out to high heaven for vengeance ( James 5:4 ). What is friendship with the world? It is adultery, James says ( James 4:4 ). The rust of unjust riches testifies against those who have accumulated them, and then turns upon them and eats their flesh like fire ( James 5:3 ). James observed the man who glanced at himself in the mirror in the morning, and saw that his face was not clean, and who went away and thought no more about it for that whole day, and he found in him an illustration of the one who heard the word and did not do it ( James 1:23 , James 1:24 ). The epistle is full of these rhetorical figures, and they prove that James was something of a poet at heart, even as Jesus was. He writes in prose, but there is a marked rhythm in all of his speech. He has an ear for harmony as he has an eye for beauty everywhere.
6. Unlikeness to Paul
The Pauline epistles begin with salutations and close with benedictions. They are filled with autobiographical touches and personal messages. None of these things appear here. The epistle begins and ends with all abruptness. It has an address, but no thanksgiving. There are no personal messages and no indications of any intimate personal relationship between the author and his readers. They are his "beloved brethren." He knows their needs and their sins, but he may never have seen their faces or visited their homes. The epistle is more like a Prophet's appeal to a nation than a personal letter.
7. Likeness to Jesus
Both the substance of the teaching and the method of its presentation remind us of the discourses of Jesus. James says less about the Master than any other writer in the New Testament, but his speech is more like that of the Master than the speech of any one of them. There are at least ten parallels to the Sermon on the Mount in this short epistle, and for almost everything that James has to say we can recall some statement of Jesus which might have suggested it. When the parallels fail at any point, we are inclined to suspect that James may be repeating some unrecorded utterance of our Lord. He seems absolutely faithful to his memory of his brother's teaching. He is the servant of Jesus in all his exhortation and persuasion.
Did the Master shock His disciples' faith by the loftiness of the Christian ideal He set before them in His great sermon, "Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" ( Matthew 5:48 )? James sets the same high standard in the very forefront of his epistle: "Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing" ( James 1:4 ). Did the Master say, "Ask, and it shall be given you" ( Matthew 7:7 )? James says, "If any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God ...; and it shall be given him" ( James 1:5 ). Did the Master add a condition to His sweeping promise to prayer and say, "Whosoever ... shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he faith cometh to pass, he shall have it" ( Mark 11:23 )? James hastens to add the same condition, "Let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed" ( James 1:6 ). Did the Master close the great sermon with His parable of the Wise Man and the Foolish Man, saying, "Every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man. And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man" ( Matthew 7:24 , Matthew 7:26 )? James is much concerned about wisdom, and therefore he exhorts his readers, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves" ( James 1:22 ). Had the Master declared, "If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them" ( John 13:17 )? James echoes the thought when he says, "A doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing" ( James 1:25 ). Did the Master say to the disciples, "Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God" ( Luke 6:20 )? James has the same sympathy with the poor, and he says, "Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him?" ( James 2:5 ). Did the Master inveigh against the rich, and say, "Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you, ye that are full now! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you, ye that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep" ( Luke 6:24 , Luke 6:25 )? James bursts forth into the same invective and prophesies the same sad reversal of fortune, "Come now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you" ( James 5:1 ). "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness" ( James 4:8 , James 4:9 ). Had Jesus said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" ( Matthew 7:1 )? James repeats the exhortation, "Speak not one against another, brethren. He that ... judgeth his brother ... judgeth the law ... but who art thou that judgest thy neighbor?" ( James 4:11 , James 4:12 ). Had Jesus said, "Whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted" ( Matthew 23:12 )? We find the very words in James, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you" ( James 4:10 ). Had Jesus said, "I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet.... But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one" ( Matthew 5:34-37 )? Here in James we come upon the exact parallel: "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment" ( James 5:12 ).
We remember how the Master began the Sermon on the Mount with the declaration that even those who mourned and were persecuted and reviled and reproached were blessed, in spite of all their suffering and trial. Then we notice that James begins his epistle with the same paradoxical putting of the Christian faith, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold trials" ( James 1:12 , the American Revised Version margin). We remember how Jesus proceeded in His sermon to set forth the spiritual significance and the assured permanence of the law; and we notice that James treats the law with the same respect and puts upon it the same high value. He calls it "the perfect law" ( James 1:25 ), "the royal law" ( James 2:8 ), the "law of liberty" ( James 2:12 ). We remember what Jesus said about forgiving others in order that we ourselves may be forgiven; and we know where James got his authority for saying, "Judgment is without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy" ( James 2:13 ). We remember all that the Master said about good trees and corrupt trees being known by their fruits, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" ( Matthew 7:16-20 ). Then in the Epistle of James we find a like question, "Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine figs?" ( James 3:12 ). We remember that the Master said, "Know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors" ( Matthew 24:33 ). We are not surprised to find the statement here in James, "Behold, the judge standeth before the doors" ( James 5:9 ). These reminiscences of the sayings of the Master meet us on every page. It may be that there are many more of them than we are able to identify. Their number is sufficiently large, however, to show us that James is steeped in the truths taught by Jesus, and not only their substance but their phraseology constantly reminds us of Him.
IV. Date of the Epistle
There are those who think that the Epistle of James is the oldest epistle in the New Testament. Among those who favor an early date are Mayor, Plumptre, Alford, Stanley, Renan, Weiss, Zahn, Beyschlag, Neander, Schneckenburger, Thiersch, and Dods.
The reasons assigned for this conclusion are: (1) The general Judaic tone of the epistle, which seems to antedate admission of the Gentiles in any alarming numbers into the church; but since the epistle is addressed only to Jews, why should the Gentiles be mentioned in it, whatever its date? and (2) the fact that Paul and Peter are supposed to have quoted from James in their writing; but this matter of quotation is always an uncertain one, and it has been ably argued that the quotation has been the other way about.
Others think that the epistle was written toward the close of James's life. Among these are Kern, Wiesinger, Schmidt, Brückner, Wordsworth, and Farrar.
These argue (1) that the epistle gives evidence of a considerable lapse of time in the history of the church, sufficient to allow of a declension from the spiritual fervor of Pentecost and the establishment of distinctions among the brethren; but any of the sins mentioned in the epistle in all probability could have been found in the church in any decade of its history. (2) James has a position of established authority, and those to whom he writes are not recent converts but members in long standing; but the position of James may have been established from a very early date, and in an encyclical of this sort we could not expect any indication of shorter or longer membership in the church. Doubtless some of those addressed were recent converts, while others may have been members for many years. (3) There are references to persecutions and trials which fit the later rather than the earlier date; but all that is said on this subject might be suitable in any period of the presidency of James at Jerusalem. (4) There are indications of a long and disappointing delay in the Second Coming of the Lord in the repeated exhortation to patience in waiting for it; but on the other hand James says, "The coming of the Lord is at hand," and "The judge standeth before the doors" ( James 5:7-9 ). The same passage is cited in proof of a belief that the immediate appearance of the Lord was expected, as in the earliest period of the church, and in proof that there had been a disappointment of this earlier belief and that it had been succeeded by a feeling that there was need of patience in waiting for the coming so long delayed.
It seems clear to us that there are no decisive proofs in favor of any definite date for the epistle. It must have been written before the martyrdom of James in the year 63 ad, and at some time during his presidency over the church at Jerusalem; but there is nothing to warrant us in coming to any more definite conclusion than that Davidson, Hilgenfeld, Baur, Zeller, Hausrath, von Soden, Jülicher, Harnack, Bacon and others date the epistle variously in the post-Pauline period, 69-70 to 140-50 ad. The arguments for any of these dates fall far short of proof, rest largely if not wholly upon conjectures and presuppositions, and of course are inconsistent with any belief in the authorship by James.
V. History of the Epistle
Eusebius classed James among those whose authenticity was disputed by some. "James is said to be the author of the first of the so-called Catholic Epistles. But it is to be observed that it is disputed; at least, not many of the ancients have mentioned it, as is the case likewise with the epistle that bears the name of Jude, which is also one of the seven so-called Catholic Epistles. Nevertheless, we know that these also, with the rest, have been read publicly in most churches" (Historia Ecclesiastica, II, 23). Eusebius himself, however, quotes James 4:11 as Scripture and James 5:13 as spoken by the holy apostle. Personally he does not seem disposed to question the genuineness of the epistle. There are parallels in phraseology which make it possible that the epistle is quoted in Clement of Rome in the 1st century, and in Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, the Epistle to Diognetus, Irenaeus, and Hermas in the 2nd century. It is omitted in the canonical list of the Muratorian Fragment and was not included in the Old Latin version. Origen seems to be the first writer to quote the epistle explicitly as Scripture and to assert that it was written by James the brother of the Lord. It appears in the Peshitta version and seems to have been generally recognized in the East. Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ephraem of Edessa, Didymus of Alexandria, received it as canonical. The 3rd Council of Carthage in 397 ad finally settled its status for the Western church, and from that date in both the East and the West its canonicity was unquestioned until the time of the Reformation.
Erasmus and Cajetan revived the old doubts concerning it. Luther thought it contradicted Paul and therefore banished it to the appendix of his Bible. "James," he says, "has aimed to refute those who relied on faith without works, and is too weak for his task in mind, understanding, and words, mutilates the Scriptures, and thus directly contradicts Paul and all Scriptures, seeking to accomplish by enforcing the law what the apostles successfully effect by love. Therefore, I will not place his Epistle in my Bible among the proper leadingbooks" (Werke, Xiv , 148). He declared that it was a downright strawy epistle, as compared with such as those to the Romans and to the Galatians, and it had no real evangelical character. This judgment of Luther is a very hasty and regrettable one. The modern church has refused to accept it, and it is generally conceded now that Paul and James are in perfect agreement with each other, though their presentation of the same truth from opposite points of view brings them into apparent contradiction. Paul says, "By grace have ye been saved through faith ... not of works, that no man should glory" ( Ephesians 2:8 , Ephesians 2:9 ). "We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law" ( Romans 3:28 ). James says, "Faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself" ( James 2:17 ). "Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith" ( James 2:24 ). With these passages before him Luther said, "Many have toiled to reconcile Paul with James ... but to no purpose, for they are contrary, 'Faith justifies'; 'Faith does not justify'; I will pledge my life that no one can reconcile those propositions; and if he succeeds he may call me a fool" (Colloquia, II, 202).
It would be difficult to prove Luther a fool if Paul and James were using these words, faith, works, and justification, in the same sense, or even if each were writing with full consciousness of what the other had written. They both use Abraham for an example, James of justification by works, and Paul of justification by faith. How can that be possible? The faith meant by James is the faith of a dead orthodoxy, an intellectual assent to the dogmas of the church which does not result in any practical righteousness in life, such a faith as the demons have when they believe in the being of God and simply tremble before Him. The faith meant by Paul is intellectual and moral and spiritual, affects the whole man, and leads him into conscious and vital union and communion with God. It is not the faith of demons; it is the faith that redeems. Again, the works meant by Paul are the works of a dead legalism, the works done under a sense of compulsion or from a feeling of duty, the works done in obedience to a law which is a taskmaster, the works of a slave and not of a son. These dead works, he declares, can never give life. The works meant by James are the works of a believer, the fruit of the faith and love born in every believer's heart and manifest in every believer's life. The possession of faith will insure this evidence in his daily conduct and conversation; and without this evidence the mere profession of faith will not save him. The justification meant by Paul is the initial justification of the Christian life. No doing of meritorious deeds will make a man worthy of salvation. He comes into the kingdom, not on the basis of merit but on the basis of grace. The sinner is converted not by doing anything, but by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. He approaches the threshold of the kingdom and he finds that he has no coin that is current there. He cannot buy his way in by good works; he must accept salvation by faith, as the gift of God's free grace. The justification meant by James is the justification of any after-moment in the Christian life, and the final justification before the judgment throne. Good works are inevitable in the Christian life. There can be no assurance of salvation without them.
Paul is looking at the root; James is looking at the fruit. Paul is talking about the beginning of the Christian life; James is talking about its continuance and consummation. With Paul, the works he renounces precede faith and are dead works. With James, the faith he denounces is apart from works and is a dead faith.
Paul believes in the works of godliness just as much as James. He prays that God may establish the Thessalonians in every good work ( 2 Thessalonians 2:17 ). He writes to the Corinthians that "God is able to make all grace abound unto" them; that they, "having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work" ( 2 Corinthians 9:8 ). He declares to the Ephesians that "we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them" ( Ephesians 2:10 ). He makes a formal statement of his faith in Romans: God "will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" ( Romans 2:6-10 ). This is the final justification discussed by James, and it is just as clearly a judgment by works with Paul as with him.
On the other hand James believes in saving faith as well as Paul. He begins with the statement that the proving of our faith works patience and brings perfection ( James 1:3 , James 1:1 ). He declares that the prayer of faith will bring the coveted wisdom ( James 1:6 ). He describes the Christian profession as a holding "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory" ( James 2:1 ). He says that the poor as to the world are rich in faith, and therefore heirs to the kingdom ( James 2:5 ). He quotes the passage from Genesis, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness" ( Genesis 2:23 ), and he explicitly asserts that Abraham's "faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect" ( Genesis 2:22 ). The faith mentioned in all these passages is the faith of the professing Christian; it is not the faith which the sinner exercises in accepting salvation. James and Paul are at one in declaring that faith and works must go hand in hand in the Christian life, and that in the Christian's experience both faith without works is dead and works without faith are dead works. They both believe in faith working through love as that which alone will avail in Christ Jesus ( Galatians 5:6 ). Fundamentally they agree. Superficially they seem to contradict each other. That is because they are talking about different things and using the same terms with different meanings for those terms in mind.
VI. Message of the Epistle to Our Times
1. To the Pietist
There are those who talk holiness and are hypocrites; those who make profession of perfect love and yet cannot live peaceably with their brethren; those who are full of pious phraseology but fail in practical philanthropy. This epistle was written for them. It may not give them much comfort, but it ought to give them much profit. The mysticism that contents itself with pious frames and phrases and comes short in actual sacrifice and devoted service will find its antidote here. The antinomianism that professes great confidence in free grace, but does not recognize the necessity for corresponding purity of life, needs to ponder the practical wisdom of this epistle. The quietists who are satisfied to sit and sing themselves away to everlasting bliss ought to read this epistle until they catch its bugle note of inspiration to present activity and continuous good deeds. All who are long on theory and short on practice ought to steep themselves in the spirit of James; and since there are such people in every community and in every age, the message of the epistle will never grow old.
2. To the Sociologist
The sociological problems are to the front today. The old Prophets were social reformers, and James is most like them in the New Testament. Much that he says is applicable to present-day conditions. He lays down the right principles for practical philanthropy, and the proper relationships between master and man, and between man and man. If the teachings of this epistle were put into practice throughout the church it would mean the revitalization of Christianity. It would prove that the Christian religion was practical and workable, and it would go far to establish the final brotherhood of man in the service of God.
3. To the Student of the Life and Character of Jesus
The life of our Lord is the most important life in the history of the race. It will always be a subject of the deepest interest and study. Modern research has penetrated every contributory realm for any added light upon the heredity and the environment of Jesus. The people and the land, archaeology and contemporary history, have been cultivated intensively and extensively for any modicum of knowledge they might add to our store of information concerning the Christ. We suggest that there is a field here to which sufficient attention has not yet been given. James was the brother of the Lord. His epistle tells us much about himself. On the supposition that he did not exhort others to be what he would not furnish them an example in being, we read in this epistle his own character writ large. He was like his brother in so many things. As we study the life and character of James we come to know more about the life and character of Jesus.
Jesus and James had the same mother. From her they had a common inheritance. As far as they reproduced their mother's characteristics they were alike. They had the same home training. As far as the father in that home could succeed in putting the impress of his own personality upon the boys, they would be alike. It is noticeable in this connection that Joseph is said in the Gospel to have been "a just man" ( Matthew 1:19 the King James Version), and that James came to be known through all the early church as James the Just, and that in his epistle he gives this title to his brother, Jesus, when he says of the unrighteous rich of Jerusalem, "Ye have condemned and killed the just" man ( James 5:6 the King James Version). Joseph was just, and James was just, and Jesus was just. The brothers were alike, and they were like the father in this respect. The two brothers seem to think alike and talk alike to a most remarkable degree. They represent the same home surroundings and human environment, the same religious training and inherited characteristics. Surely, then, all that we learn concerning James will help us the better to understand Jesus.
They are alike in their poetical insight and their practical wisdom. They are both fond of figurative speech, and it seems always natural and unforced. The discourses of Jesus are filled with birds and flowers and winds and clouds and all the sights and sounds of rural life in Palestine. The writings of James abound in reference to the field flowers and the meadow grass and the salt fountains and the burning wind and the early and the latter rain. They are alike in mental attitude and in spiritual alertness. They have much in common in the material equipment of their thought. James was well versed in the Apocryphal literature. May we not reasonably conclude that Jesus was just as familiar with these books as he? James seems to have acquired a comparative mastery of the Greek language and to have had some acquaintance with the Greek philosophy. Would not Jesus have been as well furnished in these lines as he?
What was the character of James? All tradition testifies to his personal purity and persistent devotion, commanding the reverence and the respect of all who knew him. As we trace the various elements of his character manifesting themselves in his anxieties and exhortations in this epistle, we find rising before us the image of Jesus as well as the portrait of James. He is a single-minded man, steadfast in faith and patient in trials. He is slow to wrath, but very quick to detect any sins of speech and hypocrisy of life. He is full of humility, but ready to champion the cause of the oppressed and the poor. He hates all insincerity and he loves wisdom, and he believes in prayer and practices it in reference to both temporal and spiritual good. He believes in absolute equality in the house of God. He is opposed to anything that will establish any distinctions between brethren in their place of worship. He believes in practical philanthropy. He believes that the right sort of religion will lead a man to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. A pure religion in his estimation will mean a pure man. He believes that we ought to practice all that we preach.
As we study these characteristics and opinions of the younger brother, does not the image of his and our Elder Brother grow ever clearer before our eyes?
Works on Introduction: by Zahn, Weiss, Jülicher, Salmon, Dods, Bacon, Bennett and Adeney; MacClymont, The New Testament and Its Writers; Farrar, The Messages of the Books, and Early Days of Christianity; Fraser, Lectures on the Bible; Godet, Biblical Studies. Works on the Apostolic Age: McGiffert, Schaff, Hausrath, Weizsäcker. Commentaries: Mayor, Hort, Beyschlag, Dale, Huther, Plummer, Plumptre, Stier.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
said, according to Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 2, 23), to be the first of the so- called Catholic epistles ( Καθολικαί ), as being addressed to classes of Christians rather than to individuals or particular communities. (See Catholic Epistles).
I. Authorship. — As the writer simply styles himself " James, A Servant Of God And Of The Lord Jesus Christ, the question as to whom this may designate has been a subject of keen and prolonged controversy, since, as Eusebius has again remarked, there were several of this name. James the Great, or the son of Zebedee, was put to death under Herod Agrippa about the year 44 and, therefore, the authorship cannot with any propriety be ascribed to him, though a Syriac MS., published by Widmandstadt, and an old Latin version, published by Mhartianay and Sabatier, make the assertion. The authorship has been assigned by not a few to James the Less, Ὁ Μικρός , the son of Alpheus or Cleophas, and by others to James, the Lord's brother. Many, however, maintain that the two names were borne by the same individual, James being called the Lord's brother either as being a cousin or adoptive brother of Jesus (Lange, art. Jacobus in Herzog's Encyklopadie), or as a son of Joseph by a Levirate connection with the widow of Cleophas-the opinion of Epiphanius and Theophylact; or as a son of Joseph by a former marriage-the view of St. Chrysostom, Hilary, Cave, and Basnage. On the other hand, it is held by some that James, son of Alphaeus, and James, brother of our Lord, w-ere distinct persons, the latter being a uterine brother of Jesus, and standing, according to the representation of the Gospels, in the same relation with him to their common mother Mary-as in Matthew 12:47; Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; Acts 1:14. On the whole, we are inclined to the former hypothesis, but we cannot enter into the question, referring the reader to the previous article, and to that on Brothers Of Our Lord There are also three excellent monographs on the subject: Blom, Theol. Dissert. De Τοῖς Ἀδελφοῖς Κυρίου (Lugd. Bat. 1839); Schaff, Das Verhaltniss Des Jacobus Bruders Des Herms (Berlin, 1842); Wijbelingh, Quis Est Epistolae Jacobi Scriptor? (Groningen, 1854). For the other side, see Mill on the Mythical Interpretation Of The Gospels, p. 219, ed. sec., 1861. Dr. Mill held the perpetual virginity of Mary, or that she was, in ecclesiastical language, Ἀειπαρθένος , and thus virtually forecloses the entire investigation. It serves little purpose to sneer at those who hold the opposite theory as having their prototypes in the Antidicoimarianites or Helvidians of the 4th century.
According to our view, the author of this epistle was the Lord's brother, and an apostle, or one of the twelve. In Galatians 2:9, Paul classes him with Peter and John, all three being pillars ( Στῦλοι ). He is said by Hegesippus (Eusebius, Hist. 2, 23) to have received the government of the Church, Μετὰ Τῶν Ἀποστόλων , not Plost Postilos, as Jerome wrongly renders it, but Along With The Apostles-As the natural rendering is-or was received by them into a collegiate relation. In the pseudo-Clementines, and in the Apostolical Constitutions, how-ever, he is traditionally separated from the apostles. It is quite groundless on the part of Wieseler (Studien Unid Kritiken, 1842), Stier, and Davidson to argue that the James mentioned in the first chapter of Galatians is a different person from the James referred to in the second chapter. Again, we have Paul distinctly acknowledging the high position of the brethren of the Lord when he ranges them between "other apostles" and "Cephas" in 1 Corinthians 9:5. By universal consent James was called Ὁ Δίκαιος , and, being martyred, was succeeded by a cousin, Symeon, second of the cousins of the Lord, and a son of Alphelus ( Ὄντα Ἀνεψιὸν Τοῦ Κυρίου Δεύτερον ). Thus James was the superintendent of the Church at Jerusalem, and, probably on account of continuous residence, possessed of higher influence there than Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, who could only. be an occasional visitor. "Certain from James" ( Τινὲς Ἀπὸ Ι᾿Ακωβου ) went down to Antioch, before whom Peter prevaricated, as if he had stood in awe of the stricter Judaic principles of James and his party (Acts 15; Galatians 2). It seems, therefore, very natural that one occupying this position in the theocratic metropolis should write to his believing brethren of the Dispersion. He sympathized so strongly with the myriads of the Jews who believed and yet were zealous of the law - Ζηλωταὶ Τοῦ Νόμου that for their sakes, and to ward off their hostility, he advised the apostle Paul to submit to an act of conformity. This conservative spirit, this zeal for the law at least as the moral rule of life, and this profession of Christianity along with uniform obedience to the "customs," seem to us characteristic elements of the epistle before us.
The opinion that the author of this epistle was different from James, the son of Alpheeus, and not an apostle, is held by Clement, Herder, De Wette, Neander, Kern, Schaff, Winer, Stier, Rothe, and Alford. Davidson, while holding the opinion that the Lord's brother and James the apostle are different persons, ascribes the epistle to the latter. But the theory seems to violate all the probabilities that may be gathered from the early fathers and historians. That James, the Lord's brother, is James the apostle, is an opinion maintained by Baronius, Lardner, Pearson, Gabler, Eichhorn, Hug, Guericke, Meier, Gieseler, Theile, and the most of other writers.
II. Canonical Authority. — The epistle is found in the Syriac Peshito in the 2nd century, a version which circulated in the neighborhood of that country to which' James and his readers belonged, and the translator and his coadjutors must have had special historical reasons for inserting James in their canon, as they exclude the Second and Third Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse. There are clauses in Clement of Rome (Ad Cor. 32) and in Hermas (Mandat. 12, 15) which probably may refer to correspondent portions of this epistle, though, perhaps, they may only allude directly to the Septuagint. The quotation from the Latin version of Irenaeus (Adyers. Haeres. 4:16) appears to be more direct in the phrase "et amicus Dei vocatus est." But this phrase, found also in Clement, seems to have been a' current one, and Philo calls Abraham by the same appellation. We cannot, therefore, lay such immediate stress on these passages as is done by Kern, Wiesinger, and others, though there is a presumption in favor of the opinion that passages in the apostolical fathers, bearing any likeness of style or thought, to the apostolical writings, were borrowed from them, as either direct imitations or unconscious reproductions. This epistle is quoted by Origen (In Joan., in Operat, 4, 306); and the Latin version of Rufinus uses the phrase Jacobus apostolus as a preface to a quotation. This father quotes the epistle also as ascribed to James — Ἐν Τῇ Φερομένῃ Ι᾿Ακώβου Ἐπιστολῇ ; though, as Kern remarks, Origen says that the doctrine "faith without works is dead" is not received by all Οὐ Συγχωρηθέν . Clement of Alexandria does not quote it, but Eusebius says that he expounded all the Catholic Epistles, including, however, in the range of his comments the Epistle of Barnabas and the so-called Apocalypse of Peter. Tertullian seems to make no reference to it, though Credner supposes an allusion to 2, 23 in the second book Adversus Judaeos (Opera, ed. Oehler, 2, 704). Eusebius places it among the Antilegomena (Histor. Eccles. 2, 23; 3:25), saying of the epistle, under the first reference, after he had just spoken of its author's death, Ἰστέον Δὲ Ὠς Νοθεύεται Μέν , etc., "It is reckoned spurious - not many of the ancients have mentioned it;" subjoining, however, that it and Jude were used in most of the churches. In other places Eusebius quotes James without hesitation, calling the epistle by the sacred title of Γραφή , and its author Ὁ Ἱερὸς Ἀπόστολος . Jerome is very explicit, saying that James wrote one epistle, which some asserted had been published by another in his name, but that by degrees and in process of time ("paullatim tempore procedente") it obtained authority. Jerome's assertion may arise from the fact that there were several persons named James, and that confusion on this point was one means of throwing doubt on the epistle. There seems to be also an allusion in Hippolytus (ed. Lagrarde, p. 122) to 2, 13, in the words Ἡ Γὰρκρίσις Ἀνίλεώς Ἐστι Τῷ Μὴ Ποιήσαντι Ἔλεος .
It was at length received by the Council of Carthage in 397, and in that century it seems to have been all but universally acknowledged, both by the Eastern and Western churches-Theodore of Mopsuestia. being a marked exception, because of the allusion in it (5, 11) to the book of Job. At the period of the Reformation its genuineness was again called in question. Luther, in his preface to the N.T. in 1522, comparing it "with the best books of the N.T.," stigmatized it as "a right strawy epistle (eine recht stroherne Pistel), being destitute of an evangelic character." Cyril Lucar had a similar objection, that Christ's name was coldly mentioned, and that only once or twice, and that it treated merely of morality-("sole a ia moralita attende" — Lettres Anecdotes, p. 85, Amsterdam, 1718). Erasmus had doubts about it, and so had cardinal Cajetan, Flacius, and the Magdeburg centuriators. Grotius and Wetstein shared in these doubts, and they are followed by Schleiermacher, Schott, De Wette, Reuss, the T Ü bingen critics Baur and Schwegler, and Ritschl in his Entstehuny der Alt-kathol. Kirchle, p. 150. These recent critics deny its apostolic source, and some of them place it in the 2nd century, from its resemblance in some parts to the Clementine homilies. But it is plain that the objections of almost all these opponents spring mainly from doctrinal and not from critical views, being rather originated and sustained by the notion formed of the contents of the epistle than resting on any proper historical foundation. We have not space to go over the several objections, such as the absence of the term apostle from the inscription, though this is likewise not found in several of Paul's epistles; the want of individuality in the document, though this may easily be accounted for by the circumstances of the author in relation to his readers; and the apparent antagonism to the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, which we shall afterwards consider.
It is of no avail to object, with Wetstein and Theile, that James refers to the apocryphal writings, a practice unknown till a later period, for Theile's array of passages (Prolegomena, p. 46) does not prove the statement, as Huther's reply to this and other similar objections has shown at length, and step by step. Nor, lastly, can it be said that the Greek style of the epistle betrays a culture which the author could not possess. The style is nervous, indeed, and is more Hebraistic in its general structure than in its individual phrases, as in its short and pithy clauses, the absence of logical formula, the want of elaborate constructions, its oratorical fervor, and the simple and direct outflow of thoughts in brief and often parallelistic clauses. Intercourse with foreign Jews must have been frequent in those days, and there are always minds which, from natural propensity, are more apt than others to acquire a tasteful facility in the use of a tongue which has not been their vernacular. Taking all these things into account, we have every reason to accept the canonical authority of this epistle, the trial it has passed through giving us fuller confidence in it, since the principal objections are the offspring either of polemical prejudice, or of a subjective criticism based more on esthetic tendencies than historical results. Ranch has faintly objected to the integrity of the epistle, asserting that the conclusion of 5, 12-20, may be an interpolation, because it is not in logical harmony with what precedes; but he has had no followers, and Kern, Theile, Schneckenburger, and others have refuted him-logical sequence being a form of critical argument wholly inapplicable to this epistle. (See Davidson, Introd. to N.T. 3, 331 sq.) (See Antilegomiena).
III. The Persons For Whom The Epistle Is Intended. The, salutation is addressed "to the Twelve Tribes which are scattered abroad" ( Ταῖς Δώδεκα Φυλαῖς Ταῖς Ἐν Τῇ Διασπορᾶ '/ ). They were Jews, Ἀδελφοί - Brethren or believing Jews, and they lived beyond Palestine, or in the Dispersion. Such are the plain characteristics, national and religious, of the persons addressed. There are, however, two extremes of religious opinion about them. Some, as Lardner, Macknight, Theile, Credner, and Hus, imagine that the epistle is meant for All Jews. But the inscription forbids such a supposition. The tone of the epistle implies that "the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ" addressed fellow-believers'-" brethren" "begotten" along with himself ( Ἡμᾶς ) "By the word of truth," and all of them bearing the "good name" ( Καλὸν Ὄνομα ). The first verse of the second chapter implies also that they held "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory," and they are exhorted not to hold it inconsistently, along with manifest respect of persons, or showing unfounded social preferences. They are told besides, in James 5:7, to exercise patience, Ἕως Τῆς Παρου Σίαγ Τοῦ Κυρίου , till the public promised advent of the Lord their Savior. The rich men denounced in James 5:1 may not have belonged to the Church in reality, but this startling denunciation carried in it warning to them and comfort to the poor and persecuted. May there not be, in a letter to a church, holy invective against those without it, who annoy and oppress its unresisting members? Dean Alford, after Huther, inclines to include in the Διασπορά Jews also in Palestine — Judeea being regarded as the center. He refers to the phrase, Acts 8:1 ( Πάντες Δὲ Διεσπάρησαν Κατὰ Τὰς Χώρας Τῆς Ι᾿Ουδαίας Καὶ Σαμαπείας ). But the use of the verb here in its general sense and in an easy narrative cannot modify the popular meaning of Διασπορά as the technical or geographic title of Jews beyond Palestine.
On the other hand, it has been maintained by Kister (Studien u. Kritiken, 1831), Kern, Neudecker, and De Wette, that the title in the inscription is a symbolic one, and signifies simply Christians out of Palestine, as the true Israel of God. A modification of this view is held by others, viz., that while the epistle is addressed to believing Jews, believing heathen and unconverted Jews are not excluded. But the phrase in the inscription, as in Acts 26:7, is to be taken in its natural sense, and with no spiritualized meaning or reference. The entire tone and aspect also are Jewish. The place of ecclesiastical meeting is Συναγωγή ; the law, Νόμος , is of supreme authority. The divine unity is a primary and distinctive article of faith, the ordinary terms of Jewish obtestation are introduced, as is also the prophetic epithet symbolizing spiritual unfaithfulness, Μοιχαλίδες ( James 4:4).
Anointing with oil is mentioned, and the special regard to be paid ( James 1:27) to orphans and widows finds its basis in repeated statutes of the Mosaic law. The errors refuted also are such as naturally arose out of Pharisaic pride and formalism, and the acceptance of the promised Christ in a spirit of traditional carnality. The fact that the Dispersion was found principally in the East-that is, in Syria and adjacent countries-countenances the presumption that this epistle is found in the Peshito at so early, period because it had immediate circulation in that region, and there had proved the fitness and usefulness of its counsels and warning. Josephus says of the Dispersion, that the Jews were scattered everywhere, Πλεῖστον Δὲ Τῇ Συρίᾷ Ἀναμεμιγμένον (Y War, 7: 3, 3). The persons addressed were poor; the rich were their persecutors, their own partialities and preferences were worldly and inconsistent; they wanted perfect confidence in God, and stumbled at the divine dispensations; sins of the tongue were common, eagerness to be public teachers was an epidemic among them; they spoke rashly and hardly of one another; and they felt not the connection between a living faith and a holy life. Society was under a process of apparent disintegration, wars and fightings were frequent, with loss of life and property. Its extremes were the rich and the poor, with no middle class between; for, though tradings and journeyings quite in Jewish style are referred to ( James 4:13-14), the principal occupation was husbandry, with no social grade between those who owned and those who reaped the fields. (See Dispersion).
IV. Time And Place Of Writing The Epistle. — The place most probably was Jerusalem, where James had his residence. Many allusions in the epistle, while they apply to almost any Eastern locality, carry in them a presumption in favor of that country, in the metropolis of which James is known to have lived and labored. These allusions are to such natural phenomena as parching winds, James 4:1-11; long drought, James 5:17-18; the early and latter rain, James 5:7; saline springs, James 3:12; proximity to the sea, James 1:6; James 3:4 (Hug's Einleitung, 2, 439). Naturally from the holy capital of Judaea goes forth from the "servant of the Lord Jesus Christ" a solemn circular to all the believing brethren in the Dispersion-for to them James was a living authority to which they bowed, and Jerusalem a holy center that stirred a thousand loyal associations within them.
It is not so easy to determine the time at which the epistle was written. Many place the date about the year 60-close on the martyrdom of James the Just, not long before the destruction of Jerusalem-as Michaelis, Pearson, Mill, Guericle, Burton, Macknight, Bleek (Einleit. p. 547, 1862), and the older commentators generally. Hug and De Wette place it after the Epistle to the Hebrews to which they imagine it contains some allusions- — Hug holding that it was written ( Ü berlegt) on set purpose against Paul and his doctrine of justification by faith. So also Baur (Paulus, p. 677). But these reasons are by no means conclusive. The great argument that the Epistle of James was written to oppose either the doctrine or counteract the abuses of the doctrine of justification by faith has, as we shall see, no foundation. The notion that this epistle is in some sense corrective in its tone and purpose appears plausible to us, as Paul is so usually read by us before James that we gain an earlier acquaintance with him, while James occupies also a later place in the ordinary arrangement of the books of the New Testament.
But it is claimed by many that the state of the Judaeo-Christians addressed in the epistle is not that which we know to have existed at and before the year 60. There is no allusion to the fierce disputations as to the value and permanence of circumcision, the authority and meaning of the ceremonial law, or the conditions on which Gentile converts should be admitted into the Church-the questions discussed at the Council of Jerusalem. Controversies on these points, it is asserted, saturated the Church during many years before the fall of Jerusalem, and no one could address Jewish converts at any length without some allusion to them. The myriads who believed, as James said, were "all zealous of the law" ( Acts 21:20); and that zeal assumed so many false shapes, threw up so many barriers in the way of' ecclesiastical relationship, nay, occasionally so infringed on the unconditioned freeness of the Gospel as to rob it of its simplicity and power, that no Jew addressing Jewish believers with the authority and from the position of James could fail to dwell on those disturbing and engrossing peculiarities. The inference, therefore, on the part of many critics, is, that the epistle was written prior to those keen and universal discussions, and to that state of the Church which gave them origin and continuance; prior, therefore, also to the time when the labors of the apostle-Paul among the Gentiles called such attention to their success that "certain from James came down" to Antioch to examine for themselves and carry back a report to the another Church in Jerusalem (Acts 15; Galatians 2). The epistle, on this view, might be written shortly before the Council of Jerusalem- probably about the year 45. Such is the opinion of Neander, Schneckenburger, Theile, Thiersch, Huther, Davidson, and Alford.
On the other hand, Wiesinger and Bleek justly object that the interval supposed is too limited for such a growth of Christianity as this epistle implies. Moreover, although the argument in favor of an early date, drawn from the supposed design of counteracting the misinterpretation of some of Paul's doctrines (comp. 2 Peter 3:16), is scarcely tenable. yet the epistle manifestly presupposes such a, general intelligence of Gospel terms and truth as could hardly have obtained, especially abroad, so early as prior to the first council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). Indeed, many of the above arguments in favor of this very early date are self-contradictory; for it was precisely at this period that the disputes and controversies in question raged most fiercely, not having yet been authoritatively determined by any ecclesiastical consultation (comp. Paul's strong contention with Peter and Barnabas); whereas the official edict of that council precluded any further public discussion. In this respect the Epistle of James will fairly compare with that to the Hebrews, written about the same time. The reasoning, however, may be allowed to hold good against so late a date as immediately preceding Jerusalem's fall (so Macknight infers from James 5:1); for at that time the old controversy appears to have been somewhat revived. De Wette adduces the allusion to the name "Christians" in James 2:7, as an evidence in favor of the late date; but this would only require a date later than that of Acts 11:26. On the whole, the evidence decidedly preponderates in favor of the interval between Paul's two imprisonments at Rome, or about A.D. 62.
V. Object Of Writing. — The main design of the epistle is not to teach doctrine, but to improve morality. James is the moral teacher of the N. Test.; not in such sense a moral teacher as not to be at the same time a maintainer and teacher of Christian doctrine, but yet mainly in this epistle a moral teacher. There are two ways of explaining this characteristic of the epistle. Some commentators and writers see in James a man who had not realized the essential principles and peculiarities of Christianity, but was in a transition state, ‘ half Jew and half Christian. Schneckenburger thinks that Christianity had not penetrated his spiritual life. Neander is of much the same opinion (Panzung und Leitung, p. 579). The same notion may perhaps be traced in Prof. Stanley and dean Alford. But there is another and much more natural way of accounting for the fact. James was writing for a special class of persons, and knew what that class especially needed; and therefore, under the guidance of God's Spirit, he adapted his instructions to their capacities and wants. Those for whom he wrote were, as we have said, the Jewish Christians, whether in Jerusalem or abroad. James, living in the center of Judaism, saw what were the chief sins and vices of his countrymen, and, fearing that his flock might share in them, he lifted up his voice to warn them against the contagion from which they not only might, but did in part suffer. This was his main object; but there is another closely connected with it. As Christians, his readers were exposed to trials which they did not bear with the patience and faith that would have become them. Here, then, are the two objects of the epistle: 1. To warn against the sins to which, as Jews, they were most liable. 2. To console and exhort them under the sufferings to which, as Christians, they were most exposed. The warnings and consolations are mixed together, for the writer does not seem to have set himself down to compose an essay or a letter of which he had previously arranged the heads; but, like one of the old prophets, to have poured out what was uppermost in his thoughts, or closest to his heart, without waiting to connect his matter, or to throw bridges across from subject to subject. While, in the purity of his Greek and the vigor of his thoughts, we mark a man of education, in the abruptness of his transitions and the unpolished roughness of his style we may trace one of the family of the Davideans, who disarmed Domitian by the simplicity of their minds, and by exhibiting their hands hard with toil (Hegesippus apud Euseb. 3, 20.
The Jewish vices against which he warns them are formalism, which made the service ( Θρησκεία ) of God consist in washings and outward ceremonies, whereas he reminds them ( James 1:27) that it consists rather in active love and purity (see Coleridge's Aids To Reflection, Aph. 23; note also active love Bp. Butler's "benevolence," and purity = Bp. Butler's "temperance"); fanaticism, which, under the cloak of religious zeal, was tearing Jerusalem to pieces ( James 1:20); fatalism, which threw its sins on God ( James 1:13); meanness, which crouched before the rich ( James 2:2); falsehood, which had made words and oaths playthings ( James 3:2-12); partisanship ( James 3:14); evil speaking ( James 4:11); boasting ( James 4:16); oppression ( James 5:4). The great lesson which he teaches them, as Christians, is patience-patience in trial ( James 1:2); patience in good works ( James 1:22-25); patience under provocations ( James 3:17);' patience under oppression ( James 5:7); patience, under persecution ( James 5:10); and the ground of their patience is, that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, which is to right all wrongs ( James 5:8).
VI. There are two points in the epistle which demand a somewhat more lengthened notice. These are,
(a) James 2:14-26, which has been represented as a formal opposition to Paul's doctrine of justification by faith; and
(b) James 5:14-15, which is quoted as the authority for the sacrament of extreme unction.
(a) Justification being an act, not of man, but of God, both the phrases "justification by faith" and "justification by works" are inexact. Justification must either be by grace or of reward. Therefore our question is, Did or did not James hold justification by grace? If he did, there is no contradiction between the apostles. Now there is not one word in James to the effect that a man can Earn his justification by works; and this would be necessary in order to prove that he held justification of reward. Still Paul does use the expression "justified by faith" ( Romans 5:1), and James the expression "justified by works, not by faith only." Here is an apparent opposition. But, if we consider the meaning of the two apostles, we see at once that there is no contradiction either intended or possible. Paul was opposing the Judaizing party, which claimed to earn acceptance by good works, whether the works of the Mosaic law, or works of piety done by themselves. In opposition to these, Paul lays down the great truth that acceptance cannot be earned by man at all, but is the free gift of God to the Christian man, for the sake of the merits of Jesus Christ, appropriated by each individual, and made his own by the instrumentality of faith. James, on the other hand, was opposing the old Jewish tenet that to be a child of Abraham was all in all; that godliness was not necessary, if but the belief was correct. This presumptuous confidence had transferred itself, with perhaps double force, to the Christianized Jews. They had said, "Lord, Lord," and that was enough, without doing his Father's will. They had recognized the Messiah: what more was wanted? They had faith: what more was required of them? It is plain that their "faith" was a totally different thing from the "faith" of Paul. Paul tells us again and again that his "faith" is a "faith that worketh by love;" but the very characteristic of the "faith" which James is attacking, and the very reason why he attacked it, was that it did not work by love, but was a bare assent of the head, not influencing the heart; a faith such as devils can have, and tremble. James tells us that "fides informis" is not sufficient on the part of man for justification; Paul tells us that "Jidesformata" is sufficient: and the reason why fides informis will not justify us is, according to James, because it lacks that special quality, the addition of which constitutes itsfidesfo-mata. See, on this subject, Bull's Harmonia Apostolica et Examen Censurae; Taylor's Sermon on "Faith working by Love," 8, 284 (Lond. 1850); and, as a corrective of Bull's view, Laurence's Bampton Lectures, 4:5, 6. Other discussions may be found in Knapp, Scripta, p. 511; Reuss, Theologie, 2, 524; Hofmann, Schrifibeweis, 1, 639; Wardlaw's Sermons; Wood's Theology, 2. 408; Watson's Institutes, 2, 614; Lechler, Das Apostol. und nachapostolische Zeitalter, p. 163. For monographs, see Walch, Biblische Theologie, 4:941; Danz, W Ö rterbuch, s.v. Jacobus. (See Justification); (See Faith).
(b) With respect to James 5:14-15, it is enough to say that the ceremony of extreme unction and the ceremony described by James differ both in their subject and in their object. The subject of extreme unction is a sick man who is about to die, and its object is not his cure. The subject of the ceremony described by James is a sick man who is not about to die, and its object is his cure, together With the spiritual benefit of absolution. James is plainly giving directions with respect to the manner of administering one of those extraordinary gifts of the Spirit with which the Church was endowed only in the apostolic age and the age immediately succeeding the apostles.
VII. Contents. — The errors and sins against which James warns his readers are such as arose out of their situation. Perfection - Τελείοτης is a prominent idea, and Τέλειος is a frequent epithet-the "perfect work" of patience, the " perfect" gift of God, the "perfect law" of liberty or the new covenant, faith "made perfect," and the tongue-governing man is a "perfect man." He' writes from a knowledge of their circumstances, does not set before them an ethical system for their leisurely study, but selects the vices of opinion and life to which their circumstances so markedly and so naturally exposed them. Patience is a primary inculcation, it being essential to that perfection which is his central thought. Trials develop patience, and such evils as produce trials are not to be ascribed in a spirit of fatalism to God. Spiritual life is enjoyed by believers, and is fostered by the reception, and especially by the doing of the word; and true religious service is unworldly and disinterested beneficence. Partial preferences are forbidden by the royal law-faith without works is dead-tongue and temper are to be under special guard, and under the control of wisdom-the deceits of casuistry are to be eschewed contentious covetousness is to be avoided as one of the works of the devil, along with censorious pride. Rich oppressors are denounced, and patience is enjoined on all; the fitting exercises in times of gladness and of sickness are prescribed; the efficacy of prayer is extolled and exemplified; while the conclusion animates his readers to do for others what he has been doing for them-to convert them "from the error of their way" (see Stanley's Sermons And Essays On The Apostolic Age, p. 297).
The epistle contains no allusion to the cardinal doctrines of Christianity, though they are implied. It was not the writer's object either to discuss or defend them. It would be unwarranted, on that account, to say that Christianity had not penetrated his own spiritual life, or that he was only in a transition state between Judaism and Christianity. He might not, indeed, have the free and unnational views of Paul in presenting the Gospel. But a true Christianity is implied, and his immediate work lay in enforcing certain Christian duties, which he does in the style of the Master himself VIII. Style And Language. — The similarity of this epistle in tone and form to the Sermon on the Mount has often been remarked. In the spirit of the Great Teacher, he sharply reprobates all externalism, all selfishness, inconsistency, worldliness, ostentation, self-deception, and hypocrisy. Thus in the first chapter as a sample. comp. James 1:2, Matthew 5:10-12; James 1:4, Matthew 5:48; James 1:5, Matthew 7:7; James 1:9, Matthew 5:3; James 1:20, Matthew 5:22, etc. The epistle, in short, is a long and earnest illustration of the final warning given by our Lord in the figures of building on the rock and building on the sand. — The composition is the abrupt and stern utterance of an earnest, practical soul - a rapid series of censures and counsels-not entirely disconnected, but generally suggested by some inner link of association. Often a general law is epigrammatically laid down, while a peculiar sin is reprobated or a peculiar virtue enforced-or a principle is announced in the application of it. The style is vigorous-full of imperatives so solemn and categorical as to dispel all idea of resistance or compromise, and of interrogations so pointed that they carry their answer with them. It is also marked by epithets so bold and forcible that they give freshness and color to the diction. The clauses have a rhetorical beauty and power, and as in men of fervent oratorical temperament, the words often fall into rhythmical order, while the thoughts occasionally blossom into poetry. An accidental hexameter is found in James 1:17 [provided it be lawful to make the last syllable of Δόσις long].
The Greek is remarkably pure, and, it is difficult to account for this comparative purity. Hegesippus, as quoted by Eusebius, says that James's believing brethren desired him to address the crowds assembled at the Passover; for there were brought together "all the ribres, with also the Gentiles" — Πᾶσαι Αἱ Φυλαι Μετὰ Καὶ Τῶν Ἐθνῶν ; and Greek must have been the language employed. It is therefore quite preposterous on the part of Bolten, Betholdt, and Schott to suspect that the Greek of this epistle is a translation from an Aramean original.
Resemblances have sometimes been traced between this epistle and the first Epistle of Peter, and these may be accounted for by the fact that both authors were somewhat similarly circumstanced in relation to their readers. But Hug's and Bleek's inference is a rash one that Peter must have read the epistle of James. In a word, the Epistle of James is a noble protest against laxity of morals- against supine and easy acquiescence in the truths of the Gospel without feeling their power or acting under their influence, while it presents such ethical lessons as the Church, placed in multiple relations to a world of sense and trial, has ever need of to animate and sustain it in its progress towards perfection.
IX. Commentaries. — The following are the exegetical treatises expressly on the whole epistle; to a few of the most important we prefix an asterisk (*): Didemus Alexandrinus, In Ep. Jacobi (in Bibl. Max. Pair. 5, 320); Althamer. Auslegung (Arg. 1527, 8vo); Zuingle, Adnotationes (Tigur. 1533. 8vo; also in Opp. 4:534); Foleng, Commentarius (Lugdun. 1555, 8vo); Logenhagen, Adnotationes (Antw. 1571, 8vo; 1572,12mo); Heminge, Commentary (London, 1577, 4to); Feuardent, Commentarius (Paris, 1599, 8vo); Rung, Commentarius (Wittenb. 1600, 8vo); Bracche, Commentarius (Paris, 1605, 4to); Turnbull, Lectures (Lond. 1606, 4to); Winckelmann, Explicatio (Giess. 1608, 8vo).; Steuart, Commentarius (Ingolst. 1610, 4to); Paez, Commentaria (Antwerp, 1617, 1623; Lugd. 1620, 4to); Lorin, Commentarius [includ. Jude] (Mogunt. 1622; Colon. 1633, fol.); Wolzogen, Annotationes (in Opp.); Laurent, Commentarius (Amst. 1635,1662, 4to); Kerner, Predigten (Ulm, 1639, 8vo); Mayer, Exposition (London, 1639; 4to); Price, Commentarii (Lond. 1646, fol.; also in the Crit. Sacri); *Manton, Commentary (London, 1653, 4to; 1840,1842, 1844, 8vo); Brochmand, Commentarius (Hafn. 1641, 1706, 4to; Frankfurt, 1658, fol.); Schmidt, Disputationes [includ. Ephes. etc.] (Argent. 1685, 1699, 4to); Creid, Predigten (Frankf. 1694, 8vo); Smith, Vitbreiding (Amst. 1698, 4to); Creyghton, Verklaaring [includ. John's ep.] (Franck. 1704, 4to); Griebner, Predigten (Lpz. 1720, 8vo); Grammlich, Anmerk. (Stuttgart, 1721, 8vo); Michaelis, Introductio (Hal. 1722, 4to); Benson, Paraphrase (Lond. 1738, 4to; with the other Cath. ep. ib. 1749,1756, 4to; in Latin, Hal. 1747, 4to); Heisen, Dissertationes (Brem. 1739, 4to); Janson, Verklaar. (Gron. 1742,4to); Damm, Anmerk. (Berl. 1747, 8vo); Baumgarten, Auslegung (Hal. 1750, 4to); Semler, Paraphrasis (Hal. 1781; in Germ. Potsdam. 1789); Storr, Dissertationes (T Ü b. 1784, 4to; also in his Opusc. Acad. 2, 1-74); E. F. K. Rosenm Ü ller, Anmerk. (Leipzig, 1787, 8vo); Morus, Praelectiones [including Pet.] (Lips. 1794, 8vo); Goltz, Verklaaring (Amster. 1798, 4to); Scherer, Erklar. (vol. 1, Marb. 1799, 8vo); Antonio, Ferklaaringe (Leyd. 1799, 4to); Hensler, Erldut. (Hamb. 1801, 8vo); Clarisse, Bearbeid. (Amst. 1802, 8vo); Stuart, Verklaar. (Amst. 1806, 8vo); Van Kosten, Verklaaring (Amst. 1821, 8vo); *Schulthess, Commentar. (Turici, 1824, 8vo); Gebser, Erklar. (Berl. 1828, 8vo); *Schneckenburger, A nnot. (Stuttg. 1832, 8vo); *Theile, Comm7entar. (Lipsie, 1833, 8vo); Jacobi, Predigten (Berl. 1835, 8vo; tr. by Rvland, I.ondon, 1838, 8vo); Kern, Erklarung (Tilb. 1838, 8vo); Scharling, Commentarius [including Jude] (Havn. 1840. 8vo); *Stier, Auslegung (Barmen, 1845, 8vo); Cellerier, Commentaire (Par. 1850, 8vo); Stanley, Sermons (in Sermons and Essays, p. 291); *Neander, Erlauter. (Berlin, 1850, 8vo, being vol. 6 of his edu of the Heilige Schrift.; tro by Mrs. Conant, N.Y. 1852, 12mo); Draseke, Predigten (Lpz. 1851, 8vo); Patterson, Commentary (in the Jour. of Sac. Lit. Oct. 1851, p. 250 sql); *Wiesinger, Commentar (Konigs. 1854, 8vo; being vol. 6 of Olshausen's Commentary); Viedebrandt, Bibelstunden (Berl. 1859, 8vo); Porubszky, Predirlten (Vienna, 1861,8vo); Wardlaw, Lecturen (London, 1862, 12mo); Hermann [edit. Bouman], Commentarius (Tr. ad Rh. 1865, 8vo); *Adam, Discourses (Edinb. 1867, 8vo); Ewald, Erklarung [includ. Heb.] (Gbtt. 1870, 8vo). (See Epistle).
James, Spurious Writings Of.
— The following pseudepigraphal works have been attributed-to the apostle James:
1. The Protevangelium.
2. Historia De Nativitate Avarice.
3. De Miraculis Infantice Domini Nostri,',Etc.
Of these, the Protevangelium. is worth a passing notice, not for its contents, which are a mere parody on the early chapters of Luke, transferring the events which occurred at our Lord's birth to the birth of Mary his mother, but because it appears to have been early known in the Church. It is possible that Justin Martyr (Dial. cum Tryph. c. 70, 8) and Clement of Alexandria (Stomata, uib. 8) refer to it. Origen speaks of it (in Matthew 13:55); Gregory Nyssen (Opp. p. 346, edit. Paris), Epiphanius (Haer. 79), John Damascene (Orat. 1, 2, In Nativ. Marice), Photius (Orat. In Nativ. Marice), and others, allude to it. It was first published in Latin in 1552, in Greek in 1564. The oldest MS. of it now existing is of the 10th century. (See Thilo's Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, 1, 45, 108, 159, 337, Lips. 1852.) (See Apocrypha).
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
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 Christian morality, agreeably to the standard of ethics given in the Sermon on the Mount. The author looks upon Judaism as the basis of Christianity, and as on the moral side leading up to it, in correspondence with the attestation of Christ, that "salvation is of the Jews."
- ↑ Epistle Of James from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Epistle Of James from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Epistle Of James from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Epistle Of James from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- ↑ Epistle Of James from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- ↑ Epistle Of James from The Nuttall Encyclopedia