International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
jamz (Iacobos): English form of Jacob, and the name of 3 New Testament men of note:
(1) The Son of Zebedee, one of the Twelve Apostles (ho tou Zebedaiou):
A) The Son of Zebedee:
I. In the New Testament.
1. Family Relations, etc.:
To the Synoptists alone are we indebted for any account of this James. He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of John (Matthew 4:21 Mark 1:19 Luke 5:10). As the Synoptists generally place the name of James before that of John, and allude to the latter as "the brother of James," it is inferred that James was the elder of the two brothers. His mother's name was probably Salome, the sister of the mother of Jesus (compare Matthew 27:56 Mark 15:40 John 19:25), but this is disputed by some (compare BRETHREN OF THE LORD). James was a fisherman by trade, and worked along with his father and brother (Matthew 4:21). According to Luke, these were partners with Simon (5:10), and this is also implied in Mark (1:19). As they owned several boats and employed hired servants (Luke 5:11 Mark 1:20), the establishment they possessed must have been considerable.
2. First Call:
The call to James to follow Christ (Matthew 4:18-22 Mark 1:16-20 Luke 5:1-11) was given by Jesus as He was walking by the sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18). There He saw "James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they straightway left the boat and their father, and followed him" (Matthew 4:21, 22). The account of Luke varies in part from those of Matthew and Mark, and contains the additional detail of the miraculous draught of fishes, at which James and John also were amazed. This version of Luke is regarded by some as an amalgamation of the earlier accounts with John 21:1-8.
3. Probation and Ordination:
As the above incident took place after the imprisonment of John the Baptist, when Jesus had departed into Galilee (Matthew 4:12 Mark 1:14), and as there is no mention of James among those who received the preliminary call recorded by John (compare John 1:35-51; John 3:24, and compare ANDREW), it is probable that while Peter and Andrew made the pilgrimage to Bethany, James and the other partners remained in Galilee to carry on the business of their trade. Yet, on the return of Peter and Andrew, the inquiries of James must have been eager concerning what they had seen and heard. His mind and imagination became filled with their glowing accounts of the newly found "Lamb of God" (John 1:36) and of the preaching of John the Baptist, until he inwardly dedicated his life to Jesus and only awaited an opportunity to declare his allegiance openly. By this is the apparently abrupt nature of the call, as recorded by the Synoptists, to be explained. After a period of companionship and probationership with his Master, when he is mentioned as being present at the healing of Simon's wife's mother at Capernaum (Mark 1:29-31), he was ordained one of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:2 Mark 3:17 Luke 6:14 Acts 1:13).
From this time onward he occupied a prominent place among the apostles, and, along with Peter and John, became the special confidant of Jesus. These three alone of the apostles were present at the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37 Luke 8:51), at the Transfiguration (Mark 17:1-8 Mark 9:2-8 Luke 9:28-36), and at the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46 Mark 14:32-42). Shortly after the Transfiguration, when Jesus, having "stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51), was passing through Samaria, the ire of James and John was kindled by the ill reception accorded to Him by the populace (Luke 9:53). They therefore asked of Jesus, "Lord, wilt thou that we bid fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?" (Luke 9:54). "But he turned, and rebuked them" (Luke 9:55). It was probably this hotheaded impetuosity and fanaticism that won for them the surname "Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder," bestowed on them when they were ordained to the Twelve (Mark 3:17). Yet upon this last occasion, there was some excuse for their action. The impression left by the Transfiguration was still deep upon them, and they felt strongly that their Lord, whom they had lately beheld "in his glory" with "countenance altered" and "glistering raiment," should be subjected to such indignities by the Samaritans. Upon the occasion of Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32), the two brothers gave expression to this presumptuous impetuosity in a more selfish manner (Mark 10:35-45). Presuming on their intimacy with Jesus, they made the request of him, "Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and one on thy left hand, in thy glory" (Mark 10:37). In the account of Matthew (20:20-28), the words are put in the mouth of their mother. The request drew forth the rebuke of Jesus (Mark 10:38), and moved the ten with indignation (Mark 10:40); but by the words of their Lord peace was again restored (Mark 10:42-45). After the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, when He "sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple," James was one of the four who put the question to Him concerning the last things (Mark 13:3, 1). He was also present when the risen Jesus appeared for the 3rd time to the disciples and the miraculous draught of fishes was made at the sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14).
James was the first martyr among the apostles, being slain by King Herod Agrippa I about 44 A.D., shortly before Herod's own death. The vehemence and fanaticism which were characteristic of James had made him to be feared and hated among the Jewish enemies of the Christians, and therefore when "Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain of the church. he killed James the brother of John with the sword" (Acts 12:1, 2). Thus did James fulfill the prophecy of our Lord that he too should drink of the cup of his Master (Mark 10:39).
II. In Apocryphal Literature.
According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 49), "Zebedee was of the house of Levi, and his wife of the house of Judah. Now, because the father of James loved him greatly he counted him among the family of his father Levi, and similarly because the mother of John loved him greatly, she counted him among the family of her father Judah. And they were surnamed `Children of Thunder,' for they were of both the priestly house and of the royal house." The Acts of John, a heretical work of the 2nd century, referred to by Clement of Alexandria in his Hypotyposis and also by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 25), gives an account of the call of James and his presence at the Transfiguration, similar in part to that of the Gospels, but giving fantastic details concerning the supernatural nature of Christ's body, and how its appearances brought confusion to James and other disciples (compare Itennecke, Handbuch zu den neutestamentlichen Apokryphen, 423-59). The Acts of James in India (compare Budge, II, 295-303) tells of the missionary journey of James and Peter to India, of the appearance of Christ to them in the form of a beautiful young man, of their healing a blind man, and of their imprisonment, miraculous release, and their conversion of the people. According to the Martyrdom of James (Budge, II, 304-8), James preached to the 12 tribes scattered abroad, and persuaded them to give their first-fruits to the church instead of to Herod. The accounts of his trial and death are similar to that in Acts 12:1-2.
(1) James is the patron saint of Spain. The legend of his preaching there, of his death in Judea, of the transportation of his body under the guidance of angels to Iria and of the part that his miraculous appearances played in the history of Spain, is given in Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art, I, 230-41.
(2) James the son of Alpheus (ho tou Alphaiou; for etymology, etc., of James, see above): One of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:3 Mark 3:18 Luke 6:15 Acts 1:13). By Matthew and Mark he is coupled with Thaddaeus, and by Luke and Acts with Simon Zelotes. As Matthew or Levi is also called the son of Alpheus (compare Matthew 9:9 Mark 2:14), it is possible that he and James were brothers. According to the Genealogies of the Apostles (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), James was of the house of Gad. The Martyrdom of James, the son of Alpheus (compare Budge, ib, 264-66) records that James was stoned by the Jews for preaching Christ, and was "buried by the Sanctuary In Jerusalem."
This James is generally identified with James the Little or the Less, the brother of Joses and son of Mary (Matthew 27:56 Mark 15:40). In John 19:25 this Mary is called the wife of Cleophas (the King James Version) or Clopas (Revised Version), who is thus in turn identified with Alpheus. There is evidence in apocryphal literature of a Simon, a son of Clopas, who was also one of the disciples (compare NATHANAEL). If this be the same as Simon Zelotes, it would explain why he and James (i.e. as being brothers) were coupled together in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts. Some have applied the phrase "his mother's sister" in John 19:25 to Mary the wife of Clopas, instead of to a separate person, and have thus attempted to identify James the son of Alpheus with James the brother of our Lord. For a further discussion of the problem, see BRETHREN OF THE LORD.
(3) James, "the Lord's brother" (ho adelphos tou Kuriou):he Less, the brother of Joses and son of Mary (Matthew 27:56 Mark 15:40). In John 19:25 this Mary is called the wife of Cleophas (the King James Version) or Clopas (Revised Version), who is thus in turn identified with Alpheus. There is evidence in apocryphal literature of a Simon, a son of Clopas, who was also one of the disciples (compare NATHANAEL). If this be the same as Simon Zelotes, it would explain why he and James (i.e. as being brothers) were coupled together in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts. Some have applied the phrase "his mother's sister" in John 19:25 to Mary the wife of Clopas, instead of to a separate person, and have thus attempted to identify James the son of Alpheus with James the brother of our Lord. For a further discussion of the problem, see BRETHREN OF THE LORD.
B) James, "The Lord's Brother":
I. New Testament References.
1. In the Gospels:
This James is mentioned by name only twice in the Gospels, i.e. when, on the visit of Jesus to Nazareth, the countrymen of our Lord referred in contemptuous terms to His earthly kindred, in order to disparage His preaching (Matthew 13:55 Mark 6:3). As James was one of "his brethren," he was probably among the group of Christ's relatives who sought to interview Him during His tour through Galilee with the Twelve (Matthew 12:46). By the same reasoning, he accompanied Jesus on His journey to Capernaum (John 2:12), and joined in attempting to persuade Him to depart from Galilee for Judea on the eve of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:3). At this feast James was present (John 7:10), but was at this time a non-believer in Jesus (compare John 7:5, "Even his brethren did not believe on him").
2. In the Epistles:
Yet the seeds of conversion were being sown within him, for, after the crucifixion, he remained in Jerusalem with his mother and brethren, and formed one of that earliest band of believers who "with one accord continued stedfastly in prayer" (Acts 1:14). While there, he probably took part in the election of Matthias to the vacant apostleship (Acts 1:15-25). James was one of the earliest witnesses to the resurrection, for, after the risen Lord had manifested Himself to the five hundred, "he was seen of James" (1 Corinthians 15:7 the King James Version). By this his growing belief and prayerful expectancy received confirmation. About 37 or 38 A.D., James, "the Lord's brother" (Galatians 1:19), was still in Jerusalem, and had an interview there for the first time with Paul, when the latter returned from his 3 years' sojourn in Damascus to visit Cephas, or Peter (Galatians 1:18, 19; compare Acts 9:26). In several other passages the name of James is coupled with that of Peter. Thus, when Peter escaped from prison (about 44 A.D.), he gave instructions to those in the house of John Mark that they should immediately inform "James and the brethren" of the manner of his escape (Acts 12:17). By the time of the Jerusalem convention, i.e. about 51 A.D. (compare Galatians 2:1), James had reached the position of first overseer in the church (compare Acts 15:13, 19). Previous to this date, during Paul's ministry at Antioch, he had dispatched certain men thither to further the mission, and the teaching of these had caused dissension among the newly converted Christians and their leaders (Acts 15:1, 2 Galatians 2:12). The conduct of Peter, over whom James seems to have had considerable influence, was the principal matter of contention (compare Galatians 2:11 if). However, at the Jerusalem convention the dispute was amicably settled, and the pillars of the church, James, John and Cephas, gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Galatians 2:9). The speech of James on this occasion (Acts 15:13-29), his sympathy with the religious needs of the Gentileworld (Acts 15:17), his desire that formalism should raise no barrier to their moral and spiritual advancement (Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29), and his large-hearted tributes to the "beloved Barnabas and Paul" (Acts 15:25, 26), indicate that James was a leader in whom the church was blessed, a leader who loved peace more than faction, the spirit more than the law, and who perceived that religious communities with different forms of observance might still live and work together in common allegiance to Christ. Once more (58 A.D.), James was head of the council at Jerusalem when Paul made report of his labors, this time of his 3rd missionary Journey (Acts 21:17). At this meeting Paul was admonished for exceeding the orders he had received at the first council, in that he had endeavored to persuade the converted Jews also to neglect circumcision (Acts 21:21), and was commanded to join in the vow of purification (Acts 21:23-26). There is no Scriptural account of the death of James From 1 Corinthians 9:5 it has been inferred that he was married. This is, however, only a conjecture, as the passage refers to those who "lead about a sister, a wife" (the King James Version), while, so far as we know, James remained throughout his life in Jerusalem.
This James has been regarded as the author of the Epistle of James, "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ"; compare JAMES, EPISTLE OF. Also, for details concerning his relationship to Christ, compare BRETHREN OF THE LORD.
II. References in Apocryphal Literature.
James figures in one of the miraculous events recorded in the Gnostic "Gospel of the Infancy, by Thomas the Israelite philosopher," being cured of a snake-bite by the infant Jesus (compare Hennecke, Handbuch zu den neutestamentlichen Apokryphen, 73). According to the Gospel of the Hebrews (compare ib, 11-21), James had also partaken of the cup of the Lord, and refused to eat till he had seen the risen Lord. Christ acknowledged this tribute by appearing to James first. In the Acts of Peter (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 475), it is stated that "three days after the ascension of our Lord into heaven, James, whom our Lord called his `brother in the flesh,' consecrated the Offering and we all drew nigh to partake thereof: and when ten days had passed after the ascension of our Lord, we all assembled in the holy fortress of Zion, and we stood up to say the prayer of sanctification, and we made supplication unto God and besought Him with humility, and James also entreated Him concerning the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Offering." The Preaching of James the Just (compare Budge, II, 78-81) tells of the appointment of James to the bishopric of Jerusalem, of his preaching, healing of the sick and casting out of devils there. This is confirmed by the evidence of Clement of Alexandria (Euseb., HE, II, 1). In the Martyrdom of James the Just (compare Budge, II, 82-89), it is stated that J., "the youngest of the sons of Joseph," alienated, by his preaching, Piobsata from her husband Ananus, the governor of Jerusalem. Ananus therefore inflamed the Jews against James, and they hurled him down from off the pinnacle of the temple. Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, II, 23), and Josephus (Ant., XX, ix, 1), testify to the general truth of this. It is thus probable that James was martyred about 62 or 63 A.D.
Besides the epistle which bears his name, James was also the reputed author of the Protevangelium Jacobi, a work which originated in the 2nd century and received later additions (compare Henn, NA, 47-63; also JOSEPH, HUSBAND OF MARY).
C. M. Kerr
JAMES, EPISTLE OF
" I. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EPISTLE
II. AUTHOR OF THE EPISTLE
III. STYLE OF THE EPISTLE
2. Good Greek
5. Figures of Speech
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 iust 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 1:1 and 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" (2:2).
(3) Abraham is mentioned as "our father" (2:21).
(4) God is given the Old Testament name, "the Lord of Sabaoth" (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 (2:8-12; 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 (2:2-4), worldliness and pride (4:4-6), impatience and murmuring (5:7-11), and other sins of the temper and tongue (3:1-12; 4:11, 12).
(7) The illustrations of faithfulness and patience and prayer are found in Old Testament characters, in Abraham (2:21), Rahab (2:25), Job (James 5:11),and Elijah (James 5:17, 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 stedfastness 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 (Euscb., 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, 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" (Euscb., 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 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 (1:6). The rich man fades away in his goings, even as the beauty of the flower falls and perishes (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 (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 (2:15, 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 (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 (3:17). The vaunting tradesmen, whose lives are like vanishing vapor, stand there before the eyes of all in Jerusalem (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 (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 (2:4-7, 14, 16; 3:11, 12; 4:1, 4, 5, 12, 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 (1:1-6, 19-24; 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 (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 (3:4, 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 (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 (1:10, 11), the forest fire that sweeps the mountain side and like a living torch lights up the whole land (3:5), the sweet and salt springs (3:11), the fig trees and the olive trees and the vines (3:12), the seed-sowing and the fruit-bearing (3:18), the morning mist immediately lost to view (4:14), the early and the latter rain for which the husbandman waiteth patiently (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 (1:15). The word of truth has a like power and conceives and brings forth those who live to God's praise (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 (4:1, 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 (5:4). What is friendship with the world? It is adultery, James says (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 (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 (1:23, 14). 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 ep.: "Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing" (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" (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" (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, 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" (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" (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?" (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, 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" (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" (4:8, 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?" (4:11, 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" (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" (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" (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" (1:25), "the royal law" (2:8), the "law of liberty" (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" (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?" (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" (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 ep., 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, Bruckner, Wordsworth, and Farrar.
(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.
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JUDAS OF JAMES
(Ioudas Iakobou): One of the twelve apostles (Luke 6:16 Acts 1:13; for etymology, etc., see JUDAS). the King James Version has the reading "brother of James," and the Revised Version (British and American) reads "son of James." The latter is to be preferred. In John 14:22 he is described as "Judas (not Iscariot)." The name corresponds with the "Thaddaeus" or "Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus" of Matthew 10:3 the King James Version and Mark 3:18 (compare THADDAEUS). The identification of Thaddaeus with Judas is generally accepted, though Ewald and others hold that they were different persons, that Thaddeus died during Christ's lifetime, and that Judas was chosen in his place (compare Bruce, Training of the Twelve, 34). If the Revised Version (British and American) is accepted as the correct rendering of Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, this Judas cannot be identified either with the Juda (Mark 6:3 the King James Version), Judas (Mark 6:3 the Revised Version (British and American)), or Judas (Matthew 13:55), the brother of Jesus; or with the Judas (Jude 1:1 the Revised Version margin) or Jude (Jude 1:1 the King James Version), the brother of James, whether these two latter Judases are to be regarded as the same or not. The only incident recorded of Judas of James is in John 14:22, where during Christ's address to the disciples after the last supper he put the question, "Lord, what is come to pass that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?"
C. M. Kerr
PROTEVANGELIUM, OF JAMES
See APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS, III, 1, (a).
JAMES, PROTEVANGELIUM OF
See APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS.