January 24, 2012
Have you ever read the Epistle of James and wondered just what kind of a writing it is? Is it similar to Proverbs, offering miscellaneous wisdom sayings? Is it like one of Paul’s letters, helping a church work through a particular issue? I recently finished writing a thesis on the Epistle of James in which I concluded that James belongs to the genre “diaspora letter.” A diaspora letter is basically a type of ancient letter that: (1) is written by an authoritative leader, (2) the leader writes from Jerusalem, (3) the leader writes to those in the diaspora — who have been scattered outside of Jerusalem, and (4) the leader writes in order to help his audience address sin and live in a God-pleasing way despite their marginalized situation.
I have just finished reading through Karen Jobes’s Letters to the Church. Jobes devotes several chapters in her book to James. In her discussion of genre, she concludes that James should be read as a diaspora letter: “The prophets identified diaspora as the place of divine judgment for covenantal disobedience. For this reason they called God’s people to repentance while also offering the promise of divine deliverance from judgment” (Jobes, 165).
Jobes’s book is an excellent introduction to the general Epistles and will be very useful for students encountering these letters for the first time. And, while we’re on the topic of James, I thought I’d mention that in the next few days I hope to write a brief post explaining my views on James 5:13-18 — the passage that promises unconditional healing. The question is, what type of healing did James have in mind?
September 20, 2011
Recently, I had the opportunity to preach in church. I was told I could speak on any passage that I wanted to, so I chose one in James. If you are interested, you can hear my sermon HERE (be sure to scroll down until you see the sermon titled “James 1″ on 8/21)
July 19, 2011
“[James's words] are by one of the Lord’s apostles, and if we ourselves have not deeply perceived their meaning, we nevertheless dare to trust that they are not casual and idle words, a flowery expression of a flimsy thought, but that they are faithful and unfailing, tried and tested, as was the life of the apostle who wrote them” (Kierkegaard, Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, 32, quoted in Bauckham, Wisdom of James, 11).
Kierkegaard also mentioned in his writings that the first chapter of James, especially vv. 17-21, was his favorite passage of Scripture: “my first, my favorite text, my first love, even my only love — to which one returns again and again and again and always” (Kierkegaard, quoted in Bauckham, Wisdom of James, 160).
June 25, 2011
Listed below are some important sources relating to the epistle of James, most of which I have found very helpful for my thesis. I have included monographs, commentaries (both English and foreign), and journal articles. I have also included several early church Fathers who made important comments on certain passages of James. I hope you find this helpful.
Adamson, James B. James: The Man and His Message. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.
———. The Epistle of James. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.
Albl, Martin C. “‘Are Any Among You Sick?’ The Health Care System in the Letter of James.” Journal of Biblical Literature 12 (2002): 123–43.
Althaus, Paul. “Bekenne einer dem anderen seine Sünden: Zur Geschichte von Jak 5, 16 seit Augustinus.” Pages 165–94 in Festgabe für Theodor Zahn. Leipzig : A Deichertsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1928.
Amphoux, C. B. “L’Emploi du Coordonnant dans l’Épître de Jacques.” Biblica 63 (1982): 90–101.
Armerding, C. “‘Is any among You Afflicted’: A Study of James 5:13–20.” Bibliotheca Sacra 95 (1938): 195–201.
Aquinas, Thomas. The Summa Theologica. Third Part (18). 2d ed. Translated by the English Domincan Province. London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1928.
Baker, William R. Personal Speech-Ethics in the Epistle of James. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1995.
Bauckham, Rickard. James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage. New Testament Readings. New York/London: Routledge, 1999.
Bede the Venerable. Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles. Translated by David Hurst. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1985.
Blue, J. Ronald. “James.” Pages 815–36 in The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983.
Burchard, Christoph. Der Jakobusbrief. Handbuch zum Neuen Testament 15/1. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000.
Calvin, Jean. A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke Volume III and The Epistles of James and Jude. Calvin’s Commentaries. Translated by A. W. Morrison. Edited by David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972.
Cantinat, Jean. Les Èpitres de Saint Jacques et de Saint Jude. Sources Bibliques. Paris: Gablda, 1973.
Cargal, Timothy B. Restoring the Diaspora: Discursive Structure and Purpose in the Epistle of James. SBL Dissertation Series 144. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993.
Carson, D. A. “James.” Pages 997–1013 in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Edited by G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
Chaine, J. L’Épître de Saint Jacques. Études bibliques. Paris: Gabalda, 1927.
Chrysostom. ΠΕΡΙ ΙΕΡΩΣΥΝΗΣ (De Sacerdotio) of St John Chrysostom. Edited by J. Arbuthnot Nairn. Cambridge: University Press, 1906.
Collins, C. John. “James 5:14–16a: What is the Anointing for?” Presbyterion 23 (1997): 79–91.
Condon, Kevin. “The Sacrament of Healing (Jas 5:14–15).” Scripture 11 (1959): 33–42.
Davids, Peter H. The Epistle of James: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.
Dibelius, Martin. Der Brief des Jakobus. Edited by Heinrich Greeven. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1964.
———. Commentary on the Epistle of James. Edited by Heinrich Greeven. Translated by Michael A. Williams. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976.
Dudley, Martin, and Geoffrey Rowell, eds. The Oil of Gladness: Anointing in the Christian Tradition. London/ Collegeville: SPCK/Liturgical Press, 1993.
Eisenman, Robert. “Eschatological ‘Rain’ Imagery in the War Scroll from Qumran and in the Letter of James.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 49 (1990): 173–84.
Elliott, J. H. “The Epistle of James in Rhetorical and Social Scientific Perspective: Holiness-Wholeness and Patterns of Replication.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 23 (1993): 71–81.
Francis, Fred O. “The Form and Function of the Opening and Closing Paragraphs of James and I John.” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche
61 (1970): 110–26.
Frankemölle, Hubert. “Das Semantische Netz des Jakobusbriefes: Zur Einheit eines umstritenen Briefes.” Biblische Zeitschrift 34 (1990): 161–97.
———. Der Brief des Jakobus. Vols. 1 and 2. Ökumenischer Taschenbuchkommentar zum Neuen Testament 17. Edited by Erich Gräßser and Karl Kertelge. Würzburg: Gütersloh, 1994.
Friesenhahn, Hans. “Zur Geschichte der Überlieferung und Exegese des Textes bei Jak V,14f.” Biblische Zeitschrift 24 (1938/39): 185–90.
Greenlee, J. Harold. An Exegetical Summary of James. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1993.
Halliburton, John. “Anointing in the Early Church.” Pages 77–91 in The Oil of Gladness: Anointing in the Christian Tradition. Collegeville/London: Liturgical Press/SPCK, 1993.
Hart, George and Helen. A Semantic and Structural Analysis of James. Edited by John Banker. Dallas: SIL International, 2001.
Hauck, Frederick. Die Briefe des Jakobus, Petrus, Judas und Johannes (Kirchenbriefe). Das neue Testament Deutsch 10. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1954.
Hayden, Daniel. “Calling the Elders to Pray.” Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981): 258–65.
Howard, J. Keir. Disease and Healing in the New Testament: An Analysis and Interpretation. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001.
Jeffrey, John. “Anointing in the New Testament.” Pages 46–76 in The Oil of Gladness: Anointing in the Christian Tradition. Collegeville/London: Liturgical Press/SPCK, 1993.
———. Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.
Johnston, Wendell G. “Does James Give Believers a Pattern for Dealing with Sickness and Healing?” Pages 168–74 in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.
Kaiser, Sigurd. Krankenheilung: Untersuchungen zu Form, Sprache, traditionsgeschichtlichem Hintergrund und Aussage von Jak 5, 13–18. Wissenschafliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament 112. Neukirchener Verlag: Neukirchen-Vluyn, 2006.
Karris, Robert J. “Some New Angles on James 5:13–20.” Review & Expositor 97 (2000): 207–19.
Kennedy, G. A. The Art of Persuasion in Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963.
Kilmartin, E. J. “The Interpretation of James 5:14–15 in the Armenian Catena on the Catholic Epistles: Scholium 82.” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 53 (1987): 335–64.
Konradt, Matthias. Christliche Existenz nach dem Jakobusbrief: Eine Studie zu seiner soteriologischen und ethischen Konzeption. Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments 22. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998.
Kuske, David P. “Exegetical Brief: James 5:14—’Anoint Him with Oil.’” Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly 102 (2005): 125–27.
Lange, J. P. The Epistle General of James. Translated by J. Mombert. New York: Charles Scribner, 1867.
Laws, Sophie. The Epistle of James. Black’s New Testament Commentaries. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1980.
Manns, Frédéric. “Confessez vos péchés les uns aus autres.” Revue des sciences religieuses 58 (1984): 233–41.
Martin, Ralph P. James. Word Biblical Commentary 48. Waco: Word, 1988.
Mayor, Joseph B. The Epistle of James. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1990.
McCartney, Dan G. James. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Edited by Robert W. Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein. Grand Rapid: Baker, 2009.
Meinertz, Max. “Die Krankensalbung Jak 5.14f.” Biblische Zeitschrift 20 (1932): 23–36.
Meyer, Arnold. Das Rätsel des Jakobusbriefes. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und di Kunde der älteren Kirche 10. Gießen: Alfred Töpelmann, 1930.
Miller, David W. “The Uniqueness of New Testament Church Eldership.” Grace Theological Journal 6 (1985): 315–27.
Mitton, C. L. The Epistle of James. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966.
Moo, Douglas J. The Letter of James. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Edited by D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2000.
Mussner, Franz. Der Jakobusbrief. 4thed. Freiberg: Herder, 1981.
Origen. “Homily 2 on Leviticus.” Pages 39–51 in Homilies on Leviticus: 1-16. Translated by G. W. Barkley. Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1990.
Penner, Todd C. The Epistle of James and Eschatology: Re-reading an Ancient Christian Letter. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 121. Sheffield: Academic Press, 1996.
Pickar, Charles H. “Is anyone Sick among You?” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 7 (1945): 165–74.
Plummer, Alfred. The General Epistles of St. James and St. Jude. New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1899.
Popkes, Wiard. Adressaten, Situation, und Form des Jakobusbriefes. Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Werk, 1986.
———. Der Brief des Jakobus. Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2001.
Porter, J. Roy. “Oil in the Old Testament.” Pages 35–45 in The Oil of Gladness: Anointing in the Christian Tradition. Collegeville/London: Liturgical Press/SPCK, 1993.
Reicke, Bo. The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude. Anchor Bible 37. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964.
Richardson, Kurt A. James. The New American Commentary. Vol. 36. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1997.
Robertson, A. T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research. Nashville: Broadman, 1934.
———. Studies in the Epistle of James. New York: George H. Doran, 1915.
Ropes, James Hardy. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St. James. The International Critical Commentary. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1916.
Sailer, J. “Jak 5, 14 und die Krankensalbung.” Theologisch-praktische Quartalschrift 113 (1965): 347–53.
Schneider, Johannes. Die Briefe des Jakobus, Petrus, Judas and Johannes. Die katholischen Briefe. NTD 10. Göttingen, 1967.
Shogren, G. “Will God Heal Us? A Re-examination of James 5:14–16a.” Evangelical Quarterly 61 (1989): 99–108.
Seifrid, Mark A. “The Waiting Church and its Duty: James 5:13–18.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (2000): 32–39.
Taylor, Mark Edward. A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. Edited by Mark Goodacre. Library of New Testament Studies 311. London/New York: T & T Clark International, 2006.
Thayer, Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Coded with Strong’s Concordance. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2005.
Thomas, J. Christopher. “The Devil, Disease and Deliverance: James 5:14–16. Journal of Pentecostal Theology 2 (1993): 25–50.
Varner, William. The Book of James: A New Perspective, A Linguistic Commentary Applying Discourse Analysis. The Woodlands, TX: Kress Biblical Resources, 2010.
Soden, Hermann von. Die Briefe an die Kolosser, Epheser, Philemon, die Pastoral Briefe, der Hebräerbrief, die Briefe des Petrus, Jakobus, Judas. Hand-Commentar zum neuen Testament. Vol. 3. Freiburg/Leipzig: Mohr Siebeck, 1893.
Vouga, François. L’Epître de Saint Jacques. Commentaire du Nouveau Testament. Genève: Labor et Fides, 1984.
Wall, Robert W. Community of the Wise: The Letter of James. The New Testament in Context. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997.
Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
Ward, R. B. “Partiality in the Assembly: James 2:2–4.” Harvard Theological Review 62 (1969): 87–97.
Warrington, Keith. “The Significance of Elijah in James 5:13–18.” Evangelical Quarterly 66 (1994): 217–27.
———. “Some Observations on James 5:13–18.” EPTA Bulletin 8 (1989): 160–177.
———. “Anointing with Oil and Healing.” EPTA Bulletin 12 (1993): 5–22.
Wilkinson, John. “Healing in the Epistle of James.” Scottish Journal of Theology 24 (1971): 326–45.
Windisch, Hans. Die katholischen Briefe. Handbuch zum Neuen Testament 15. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1951.
Wuellner, Wilhelm H. “Der Jakobusbrief im Licht der Rhetorik und Textpragmatik.” Linguistica Biblica 43 (1978): 5–66.
May 15, 2011
Yesterday I finished reading my first ever book in German, from cover to cover. The monograph focuses on James 5:13-18, the passage I’m writing about for my thesis, and argues that James has physical healing in mind in vv. 13-18. This book is, as far as I’m aware, the only that has been written focusing entirely on this passage of Scripture. Needless to say, if I had not been able to read German I would have been up a creek without a paddle when it comes to my thesis-research.
April 21, 2011
I have completed my rough draft for the paper I’m writing on James 5:13-18, which I began work on two weeks ago — it clocked in at thirty pages and eighty-five footnotes. I learned some valuable lessons while writing this paper: commentaries were the least helpful part of the research process (they all quote each other with little or no new insights), digging into the LXX and its influence on the passage was EXTREMELY useful (no one had done this before in handling this passage), my most disappointing find in the research process was this quote by Ralph Martin in the Word commentary:
This illustration [in James] may be useful to account for the way that the procedures outlined in this section of 5:13–18 found no permanent and mandatory place in the life of the church, though the verses may be said to have limited value within the canon as throwing light on what life in a Judeo-Christian community was like. In a different culture and at a time when medical and clinical practice was different from what we know today, the principles of prayer to God for healing and recovery are illustrated and may still hold a place for the faithful Christian.
Martin concludes that “the manipulative or therapeutic uses of oil” spoken of in 5:14 carried temporary relevance, while corporate intercession still holds value.”
January 20, 2011
October 22, 2010
“I was a young Benedictine monk in southern Louisiana in 1964 when I had my first conscious encounters with the Letter of James. The first came at the evening office of Compline. In those days, the entire Divine Office was in Latin. The only English Bible read was at this evening service from Ronald Knox’s translation of the Vulgate. The reader was Father Charles Villere, a grizzled monk and missionary. His passionately harsh reading of James 2:1-8 … left an indelible impression that James’s voice was not unlike the Paul that I knew in 1 Corinthians and that this prophetic voice had immediate pertinence to the social crises of our day.”
“The second encounter came through the reading of Bo Reicke’s commentary on James in this Anchor Bible series. In Reicke’s discussion of James 2:1-8, I saw for the first time how the knowledge of the social realities of the Greco-Roman world could deepen an understanding of the text.”
“These encounters affected my own approach to James when I began my formal work on the letter in a course at Yale Divinity School in 1981.”
-L. T. Johnson, Preface to The Letter of James, xi.
James is a book that I personally have been spending a lot of time in lately. My own “journey” in discovering James began when I was around 14 or 15 when I began memorizing the book (NIV translation).
A next major milestone in my encounter with James was in college. I was taking a course in sermon delivery and of all the passages in the Bible, I chose to deliver my first sermon on James ch. 3. In preparing that sermon, I noticed for the first time that all of chapter 3 seemed to be connected. My sermon (delivered to a class full of students preparing for the ministry), was that becoming a teacher is not what God expects from us. This is because teachers must use the tongue, but the tongue is uncontrollable. So instead, if we are wise, we should not speak but should show it by the way we live (3:13). Our lives should be marked by the wisdom from above. When I finished that sermon, I got pretty negative remarks from the prof, who told me that one should never cover so many verses in one sermon.
My most recent encounter with James began this summer when I read through James in the original Greek. I was struck at the connection of the whole letter, at the continual word plays, at the poetry, parallelism, rhymes, and the overall style of the langauge. Since this summer, I have been reading through James about once a week. I’m still struck every single time I read it and challenged by the message.
July 27, 2010
Martin Luther (pictured above) was not a huge fan of the Epistle of James. In his eyes, it seemed to place too great an emphasis on works and not enough on justification by faith. Erasmus of Rotterdam, however, did not share the same opinion, which I think is quite evident in his paraphrase of the book:
But what is faith without love? Love moreover is a living thing; it does not go on holiday; it is not idle; it expresses itself in kind acts wherever it is present. If these acts are lacking, my brothers, I ask you, will the empty word ‘faith’ save a person? Faith which does not work through love is unproductive; no, it is faith in name only. An example here will make clear what I mean. If someone says blandly to a brother or a sister who lacks clothing or daily food, ‘Depart in peace, keep warm, and remember to eat well,’ and after saying this, gives him or her none of the things the body needs, will his fine talk be of any use to the ones in need? They will be no less cold and hungry for all his fine talk, which is of no help to their need. He gives him only verbal support, but does nothing in actual fact. A profession of faith will certainly be equally useless if it consists only of words and does nothing except remain inactive as though dead. It should no more be called faith than a human corpse merits the name of human being. Love is to faith what the soul is to the body. Take away love and the word faith is like something dead and inert. It will do you no more good before God to confess in words an idle faith than fine speech benefits a neighbour in need when he must be helped with action. People think they are being mocked when you say to them, ‘Keep warm and well fed,’ and give them neither food nor clothing. Just so the person who offers no tangible proofs of his faith but repeats every day, ‘I believe in God, I believe in God,’ seems to be mocking God. A person who gives lip service to love possesses a fruitless charity. In the same way a person whose belief is only a matter of words possesses a faith that serves no purpose.
June 8, 2010
Adolf Schlatter, meditating on James 2:14, “What good is it if someone says he has faith, but doesn’t have works?” wrote:
Work always seems difficult when set alongside faith. Work is a battle. It arises through overcoming self. It brings me in dangerous proximity to the world. But the slothful and selfish tendency of my heart must not deceive me. There can be no doubt whatsoever that I must act…. What you, gracious God, do for us and to us, needs no help or supplementation…. You give your grace to me in my situation and occupation; you have bestowed on me the privilege of labor. I would be throwing your grace away if I did not do it. O give me, Father, the warm, strong, joyous love that obeys you.
-Adlof Schlatter, Andachten, trans. R. Yarbrough