Bible Study: New Testament Books
The Epistle of St. James
Analysis, Vocabulary, and Theology of this EpistleA. The Identity of the Author.
B. Analysis of the Epistle.
C. Its Occasion and Date.
D. Vocabulary of the Epistle.
(a) The Relationship between this Epistle and the Sermon on the Mount.E. The Canonicity and Authenticity of the Epistle.
(b) The Relationship between this Epistle and Ecclesiasticus.
(c) The Relationship between this Epistle and I Peter.
(d) The Relationship between this Epistle and St. Paul's Doctrine of Faith and Works.
F. Its Theological Teaching.
A. The Author of the Epistle.
This Epistle, the first of the "Catholic" Epistles, is addressed by "James, the servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes that are dispersed abroad." He nowhere states that he is "James, the Lord's brother," nor that he is the Bishop of Jerusalem, nor that he is one of the Apostles. But with the exception of the printed Peshitta Syriac version, which states that the three Epistles, James, 1 Peter, and 1 John, were written by the three witnesses of the Transfiguration, and an Old-Latin MS. of the ninth century, which attributes this Epistle to James, the son of Zebedee, it may be said that unanimous tradition refers it to the other James, known as "the Less," and as "the brother of the Lord," and who was the first Bishop of Jerusalem. The only doubt is whether this James was one of the Apostles, but James, the "Lord's brother," is clearly included among the Apostles by St. Paul, and patristic tradition from the time of Origen onwards identifies the writer of the Epistle with "James the Apostle." That the author was not the "brother of John" or the son of Zebedee is certain from the early death of the latter.
Assuming the identity of the writer of this Epistle with "the Lord's brother," the Apostle, and the Bishop of Jerusalem, we realize that the Epistle in question is the authoritative work of one who ranks after SS. Peter, John, and Paul in the history of the early Church. As Bishop of Jerusalem we find him presiding at the first Council  and actually formulating the decrees of that Council; it is to him—with Peter and John—that St. Paul goes "to confer with them about the Gospel"; he is one of the three whom the same Apostle terms "pillars" of the Church; he was a privileged witness of the risen Lord.
Two lengthy accounts of St. James' martyrdom are preserved for us in Eusebius, one by Clement of Alexandria from his lost Hypotyposes, the other by Hegesippus. For persisting in maintaining the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth James was cast down from the Temple wall and stoned to death; Hegesippus says that a fuller came and completed the murder by striking him on the head. James was known even to the Jews as "James the Just" for the sanctity of his life. Apropos of this martyrdom, Eusebius has preserved for us a statement by Josephus which does not appear in his works as we now have them: "These things," he says, "happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus that is called the Christ. For the Jews slew Him, although He was a most just man." The same passage is preserved for us by Origen in three places. It ought to fit in Josephus' Antiquities, XX. ix. 1.
These details in the life of the author of this Epistle are of interest, since they show us something of what St. James really was. He was an Apostle and died for the faith. But at the same time he was held in the deepest reverence by the Jews, despite his adherence to Christianity. Hence a priori we should expect to find in his Epistle something very different from what we find in the Epistles of St. Paul. And so fully are these expectations confirmed that some have even doubted whether the Epistle was a Christian document at all! This is of course absurd, such passages as 1:1, 2:1, 5:6, 5:8, 5:15 are sufficient to prove it. Still, save for those passages and for the teaching on faith and works, it might be urged that any Hebrew could have written the Epistle, which is in fact addressed to "the twelve tribes of the dispersion."
St. Jerome's account of St. James may be given in full:
"James, who is termed 'the brother of the Lord' (Ga 1:19), who bore the title of 'the Just,' and who, according to some, was the son of Joseph by another wife, but, in my opinion, the son of Mary, the sister of the Mother of the Lord, as John says in his Gospel (John 19:25), was, immediately after the Passion of the Lord, ordained by the Apostles Bishop of Jerusalem. He only wrote one Epistle—one of the seven Catholic Epistles; some, indeed, maintain that this Epistle was really written by someone else in St. James' name, though in the course of time it gradually won acceptance as St. James'. Hegesippus, who lived not long after the apostolic age, says, when speaking of James in the fifth book of his Commentaries:
'James, the Lord's brother, and known by the title of 'the Just,' held the See of Jerusalem after the Apostles. There were many of the name of James. But this James was holy from his mother's womb, drank no wine nor strong drink, never ate meat, never allowed his hair to be cut, never was anointed with oil, nor ever made use of the bath. He alone was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, since, indeed, he wore no wool, but only linen; alone he was wont to enter the Temple, and there on his knees pray for the people, so that it is believed that his knees became hard as those of a camel.'
Hegesippus also narrates many other things which it would take too long to relate. But Josephus (Ant. XX. vii. 1), as Clement in the seventh book of his Outlines, tells us that on the death of Festus, the Governor of Judea, Nero sent Albinus as his successor, and that before he could reach his province Ananus, the High Priest, a young man and the son of Ananus of the priestly caste, took occasion of the headless state of the province and summoned a council, in which he attempted publicly to compel James to deny that Christ was the Son of God, and on his refusal ordered him to be stoned. He was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple and his legs were broken in his fall, but though half dead he lifted up his hands to heaven, saying: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!' But a fuller came and struck him on the head with the club he used to beat clothes with, and so he died. Josephus further tells us that so great was his reputation for sanctity amongst the populace that the destruction of Jerusalem was generally attributed to the murder of James. (No trace of this statement can be found in Josephus, though Origen thrice attributes it to him.)
"It is of this same James that Paul the Apostle writes to the Galatians: Other of the Apostles I saw none, saving James the brother of the Lord (Ga 1:19). The Acts of the Apostles, too, often refer to him (AA 1:13, 15:13, 21:18). Moreover, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, as it is called—and which I have recently translated into Greek and Latin, and which Origen often makes use of—tells us that our Savior, after His resurrection, 'gave His winding-sheet to the High Priest's servant, and then went and appeared to James. For James had taken an oath that he would not eat bread from the hour when he drank the Lord's chalice till he saw Him rising from them that sleep.' And a little latter: 'Bring me,' said the Lord, 'a table and bread.' And He took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to James the Just, saying: 'My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of Man is risen from among them that sleep.'
"Thirty years, then, did James govern the Church at Jerusalem, and he was buried nigh to the Temple whence he was thrown down. His tomb was well known until the siege by Titus, and even till the second siege by Hadrian; some, indeed, fancy he was buried on Mount Olivet, but this notion is false."
B. Analysis of the Epistle.
The key-note to the whole Epistle lies in the distinction between rich and poor; the consequent arrogance of the former and sufferings of the latter. St. James therefore points out that our faith must needs be tried, and, in consequence, he speaks of temptation. But temptation can only successfully be resisted by prayer. These three thoughts, then—relative positions of the rich and the poor, the need of such "proving" of our faith, and the need of prayer that we may come successfully through the ordeal—run through the Epistle.
A. 1:1. The introduction: James, the servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad.
B. 1:2-4. The theme: temptation is all gain, for the trying of our faith worketh patience, and patience hath a perfect work.
C. 1:5-27 On temptation and the perfect work it produces.(a) 1:5-8. The trying of our faith demands prayer, but we must ask in faith, nothing wavering . . . for a double-minded man is inconstant in all his ways.D. 2:1-26. Of the royal law according to the Scriptures: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self
(b) 1:9-11. Likewise it demands contentment with our lot in life, and especially with our Christian lot. Thus: the poor must rejoice that as a. Christian he is exalted, the rich that as a Christian he is humbled.
(c) 1:12-18. And temptation is a blessing; it does not come from God, for from Him comes only every best and perfect gift.
(d) 1:19-27. Hence we must lay aside anger and take on patience; we must be doers of the word and not hearers only; of the perfect law of liberty; of true religion clean and undefiled, which demands that we bridle our tongue and visit the fatherless and the widows.(a) 2:1-13. Respect of persons, whereby we consider the rich rather than the poor, is a. contradiction to this law which has to be observed in its entirety; and by this law of liberty we are to be judged.E. 3:1-4:17. The desire of pre-eminence is fatal.
(b) 2:14-26 Similarly, faith without works is a denial of the law, and those works are the works of mercy by which we clothe the naked and give food to the hungry. The examples of Abraham and Rahab; faith without works is dead.(a) 3:1-12. It leads to sins of the tongue, and the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity . . . the tongue no man can tame, an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison.F. 5:1-20 The contrast between the rich unconverted Jews and the Christian brethren.
(b) 3:13-48. But true wisdom consists in meekness and in peace.
(c) 4:1-7. The same desire of pre-eminence leads to contentions and renders our prayers fruitless; it is founded in that love of this world which makes us enemies of God; the true Christian, on the contrary, must not be double-minded: draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. Hence we must lay aside all detraction and criticism, for our life is a vapor which appeareth for a little while and afterwards shall vanish away.(a) 5:1-6. A vehement condemnation of those rich Jews who oppress the poor and who condemned and put to death the Just One Who resisted not; the cry of those whom they have oppressed hath entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
(b) 5:7-20. The Christian brethren, on the contrary, are exhorted to be patient until the coming of the Lord; they are to remember the patience of the Prophets who spake in the name of the Lord, especially that of Job. They are to avoid swearing; if sad, let them pray; if cheerful, let them sing; if sick, let them call in the priests of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man . . . and if he be in sins they shall be forgiven; they are to confess their sins one to another, and are to pray much; they have an example of the efficacy of prayer in the case of Elias. Lastly, he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way shall save his soul from death.
C. The Occasion of the Epistle and its Probable Date.
St. James addresses himself to the "twelve tribes that are dispersed abroad," 1:1. Beyond this there is no reference to any particular district or place. It is otherwise with Peter, who addresses his first Epistle to the "dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." At first sight it might seem as though these addresses should be the other way round, as though, that is, the Primate ought to address the entire world and the local Bishop of Jerusalem confine himself to a particular district. Yet reflection will show us that St. Peter would naturally address himself to those amongst whom he had preached, while St. James—whose peculiar flock was the Jerusalem Church—would, as an Apostle, be justified in writing to the Church at large. At the same time it is not easy to see on what grounds he would thus feel impelled to write.
The Analysis just given will show that complaints have apparently reached him touching the difficulties in the way of leading a Christian life, the overbearing character of some of those who were better endowed with this world's goods, the cowardliness of others who tried to serve God and Mammon and were only half-hearted Christians, and the contentions which marred their peace. Thus St.James treats of the folly of being "double-minded," 1:6-11; he urges them to be doers of the Word and not hearers merely, 1:22-27; he inveighs against the rich who oppress the poorer brethren, 2:1-13, 5:1-5; he insists on the necessity of good works, 2:14-26, for some have apparently taken too generous a view of the "perfect law of liberty," and are claiming that faith without works is all that is required; he rebukes their spirit of dissension, 3:1-4:2; he demands persevering prayer, 4:2-10; and also their tendency to arrogant criticism, 4:11-17; and finally exhorts them to that patience which rests upon faith, 5:6-17.
Further, the Epistle is clearly addressed to Jews who were converts to Christianity; to none save people of Jewish stock could he speak so naturally of Abraham, 2:21, of Rahab, 2:25, of the Prophets, of Job and Elias, 5:10-17. To none but Jews who had become Christians could he say: "You slew the Just One . . .," 5:6. Moreover, in all this there is no hint of a persecution which is vexing their souls, though such a persecution is commonly taken for granted. The "temptations" to which he refers in chapter 1 may perfectly well be simply those which are incident to the effort to practice Christianity under disadvantageous circumstances. Now, was any one of the Apostles in a better situation than St. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, to learn all this? Was any Apostle better fitted to cope with the situation than he? St. Luke's account of the first Pentecost shows us how Jews flocked to Jerusalem, and, incidentally, affords us a hint of the way in which Christianity was spread throughout "the dispersion." It was these same Jews, "devout men of every nation under heaven," who came to Jerusalem for the Passover, even when they had embraced Christianity. They would find in James the Just a ready sympathizer. They would know him as one of whom Hegesippus narrates that "he was in the habit of entering alone into the Temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people."
The Probable Date at which the Epistle was written—Josephus, Hegesippus, and Eusebius himself  enable us to assign the date of the death of St. James to A.D. 62. For Josephus tells us that this judicial murder was only possible owing to the fact that Festus the Governor was just dead, and his successor Albinus was only on his way to Palestine. Hegesippus, as preserved in Eusebius, adds that James was martyred at the Passover. He concludes his account, however, by saying that "immediately Vespasian besieged them." This would seem to refer James' death to A.D. 69. In the same way Eusebius himself opens his account of the succession of Simeon to the Bishopric of Jerusalem by saying: "After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed. . . ." This seems to show that Eusebius himself held that James died just previous to A.D. 70. And this seems further confirmed by the extract from Josephus which Eusebius  and Origen  have preserved for us, and in which the destruction of Jerusalem is stated to have been a direct punishment for the murder of St. James, and therefore immediately followed upon it. The difficulty in the way of accepting this late date, however, is that Eusebius himself in his Chronicle refers the death of James to the seventh year of Nero, as also does St. Jerome. Nero's first year ran from September, 55; consequently his seventh year will be from September, 61-62, and as James died at the Passover he will have met his death in the spring of A.D. 62. As for the use of the word "immediately" by Hegesippus and Eusebius, it must be remarked that it can only be used in a wide sense, since Vespasian had nothing to do with the siege, which was begun and finished by Titus; it must then refer to the opening of the war. Further, it is possible that the passage from Josephus, which now no longer occurs in his works, but which Eusebius himself and Origen have preserved, explains the difficulty. For the idea that the fall of Jerusalem was due to the death of James would inevitably tend to make people associate the two events chronologically as well as causally.
If, then, James died in A.D. 62, his Epistle will probably not date later than A.D. 61. So much for the terminus ad quem. Can we find a terminus a quo? It seems hardly probable that it was written previous to St. Paul's arrest in Jerusalem, Acts 21, or the Pentecost of A.D. 57. Thus we can assign St. James' Epistle to the period between A.D. 57 and 61.
D. The Vocabulary of the Epistle.
The vocabulary of the Epistle presents certain points of interest.
In the first place, there are certain unusual words, e.g. ἀκατάσχετον, 3:8; ἀλαζονεία. 4:16, cp. 1 John 2:16, "superbia vitae," or, better, "false pretensions"; ἀποκυέω, 1:15, 1:18; δελεαζόμενος, 1:14, of interest from its occurrence in 2 Peter 2:14 and 18; the late form ἐπιλησμονης 1:25; εὐπρέπεια 1:11, denoting a certain "stateliness" or "majesty"; also the late word ῥυπαρία 1:21 and 2:2, cp. Apoc. 22:11. We may note, too, such words as κατίωται, 5:3, which seems like a reminiscence of Ecclus. 12:11, and σητόβρωτα, 5:2, also a reminiscence of the LXX of Job 13:28. In 3:7 we have a curious mistake in the Vulgate, which has apparently mistaken ἐναλίων, “marinis " or "cetis" for ἒν ἀλλων, though how this preposition could be constructed with a genitive must remain a mystery. At any rate, all existing existing MSS. of the Vulgate read here "ceterorum" instead of what must have originally been "cetorum." The most interesting word, however, in this Epistle is δίψυχος, 1:8, 4:8. It occurs nowhere else in the Bible, but it at once took its place in theological literature, as is evident from its use by St. Clement  and by Hermas. Two other words also call for comment—ἀδιακρίτος, 3:17, and ἀπειραστός, 1:13; the Vulgate renders these by "non judicans" and "intentator" respectively; yet they are passive adjectives, the former meaning, rather, "undecided" and the latter "incapable of being tempted." The Vulgate text is peculiar in places; thus in 1:6 no translation is given of ῥιπιζομένῳ; in 1:4 ἐχέτω is rendered by "habet" instead of "habeat"; in 3:1 ληψόμεθα by "sumitis" for "sumimus"; in 3:11 "aquam" is added; in 4:4 no translation is given of καί μοιχαλίδες; in 5:3 "vobis iram" is not represented in the Greek; 5:4, "their cry" should be "the cry of them that reap"; in 5:10 the words "exitus mali" find no place in the Greek. Conjunctions, too, and prepositions are freely inserted in the Latin text, and not always happily—1:7, 1:16, 1:19, 1:25, 1:27; 2:13; 3:1, 3:6, 3:12; 4:4; 5:8. Note especially the awkward "vos scitis" in 1:19; it is absent from the Greek text.
(a) The resemblances between the Epistle of St. James and the Gospel teaching are striking; it is hard to resist the impression that the Sermon on the Mount, as indeed all the teaching he had heard from the Master's lips during the three years, is ringing in St. James' ears as he writes. The accompanying table will serve to draw attention to some of the principal parallel passages; in studying them it should be remembered that their effect is cumulative; no one instance will prove the dependence of the Epistle upon the Gospel. Moreover, it is a resemblance due to familiarity with the spoken rather than with the written word, and that word was spoken in Aramaic; the resemblance, then, is rather one of thought and idea than of their expression.
St. James The Gospel Teaching 1:1 = Matt. 19:28 1:4 = Luke 21:29 1:5 = Matt. 7:7, 7:11 1:6 = Matt. 21:21 1:11* = Matt. 13:6b, Luke 12:55 1:14* = Matt. 15:19 1:21 = Luke 8:11 1:23 = Matt. 7:21, 26 1:25 = Matt. 7:24 1:27 = Matt. 25:36 2:3 = Matt. 23:6 and parallels 2:8 = Matt. 22:37 and parallels 2:10 = Matt. 5:19 2:13 = Matt. 5:9, 7:2 2:14 = Matt. 7:21 2:18 = Matt. 7:20 2:19 = Mark 1:34 3:1* = Matt. 23:8 3:6 = Matt. 15:11, 5:37(?) 3:12 = Matt. 7:16 3:18 = Matt. 5:9 4:3 = Matt. 7:7 4:4 = Matt. 7:39 4:9 = Matt. 5:4 4:10 = Matt. 18:4, 23:12 4:11 = Matt. 7:1 4:13 = Luke 3:12-16(?) 4:16 = Luke 7:47 5:1-3 = Matt. 6:19 5:7* = Mark 4:27 5:12* = Mark 5:34-37, 23:16 5:14 = Mark 6:13 5:15 = Mark 16:18 5:17* = Luke 4:25
(b) St. James, like St. Paul, could have described himself as "a Hebrew of the Hebrews," yet he must have been in intimate touch with the Greek thought of his day. Hence we are not surprised to find him deeply imbued with the Hellenic books Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom. For his acquaintance with the latter it will be sufficient to point out his treatment of "divine wisdom," e.g. 1:5 and 3:13-18, and compare this with such passages as Wisdom 6:9-21 and 7:25-26. St. James can hardly be said to "quote" the Book of Wisdom—he simply betrays acquaintance with it; but this can hardly be said of the use he makes of Ecclesiasticus, for he seems to quote literally. Thus compare:
St. James Ecclesiasticus 1:5 with 18:18, 20:15, 41:22 (28 in Vulgate) 1:6-8 with 1:28, 2:12; cp. 5:9, 7:10 1:2-4 with 2:1; cp. 1:23 1:13-15 with 15:11-20 1:19 with 5:2; cp. 4:29 1:23 with 12:11; cp. Wis. 7:26 5:5 with 27:13 5:14 with 28:9-15
And less closely, though with a distinct reminiscence of the words of Ecclesiasticus:
St. James Ecclesiasticus 1:9 with 3:18 4:6 with 10:7 2:1-6 with 10:19-24; cp. 13:9 3:2 with 19:16 3:5 with 28:10 (12 in Vulgate) 3:13-17 with 19:18-22 1:12 with 15:6; cp. 1:18 5:2-3 with 29:10; cp. 12:10-11
(c) The relation subsisting between this Epistle and 1 Peter is of considerable importance as affecting the respective dates at which the two Epistles were written. That there is a certain dependence of one upon the other seems to follow from a study of the following passages:
St. James 1 Peter (a) 1:2 with 1:6-7 (b) 1:9-10 with 1:24 (c) 4:6-10 with 5:5-9; cp. 13:9 (d) 5:20 with 4:8
In (a) the two Apostles are saying the same things about the value of temptation, and practically in the same words. In (b) St. Peter is quoting Isaiah 40:6; St. James is using the phraseology of that passage. In (c) "God resisteth the proud . . ." St. Peter seems almost to be quoting a proverbial expression, but it does not occur in the Old Testament. The same must be said of (d) "charity covereth a multitude of sins"; as the expression stands it is hardly a quotation of Proverbs 10:12, and St. James seems to be using the phrase as known to him from 1 Peter. Four brief passages like the above perhaps hardly afford us sufficient material for judgment, but the impression is given that St. James is dependent on 1 Peter. Note, too, the use of the words ὁ θεός in James 1:27 (cp. 3:6) and in 1 Peter 1:19 and 2 Peter 3:14, and ὁ θεός, James 1:14 and in 2 Peter 2:14, 18.
Compare, too, 1:2-3, on temptation, with Hebrews 12:11 and 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1:4, on patience, with Hebrews 10:36; 2:21, on Abraham's sacrifice, with Hebrews 11:17; 2:25, on Rahab, with Hebrews 11:31; 4:15, "God Willing," with Hebrews 6:3.
(d) There is a rooted idea in the minds of many that in some way or other St. James and St. Paul are at variance in their teaching touching faith and works. "We account," says St. Paul, "a man to be justified by faith without the Works of the Law," Romans 3:28; St. James says, "Faith without works is dead," 2:20. St. Augustine treats of this point more than once. He seems to imply that St. James insisted on his doctrine of the necessity of works precisely because he had found men misinterpreting St. Paul's words:
"For this very reason," he says, "he (St. James) makes use of the example of Abraham, because, that is, the Apostle had used it to prove that a man could be justified without the works of the Law. For by referring to the good works of Abraham which accompanied his faith James clearly shows that the Apostle did not by the case of Abraham teach that a man could be justified without works in the sense that if he simply believed he had no need to trouble about good works, but merely that no one was to fancy that, through the merits of previously existing good works, he had arrived at the gift of justification which is through faith."
It is easy for St. Augustine to point out that if the view he is combating were sound, then we should have to allow that St. Paul contradicts himself at every turn, since he himself repeatedly urges the necessity of good works, e.g. Rom. 2:13, 8:13, Gal. 5:6, 5:19-21, etc. St. Augustine concludes:
Consequently the teachings of the two Apostles, James and Paul, are not conflicting when one says that a man is justified by faith without works, and the other that faith without works is dead, for the former is speaking of those works which precede faith, the latter of those which follow it, as, indeed, St. Paul himself indicates in many places."
It will have been noted that in the above passage St. Augustine seems to take it for granted that St. James wrote his Epistle with full knowledge of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. This was in A.D. 388. Writing much later, in 413, he remarks that "even in the days of the Apostles some, through misunderstanding certain difficult passages of St. Paul, argued that they might 'do evil that good may come.'" And so, too, men had not grasped the distinction between those works which precede and those which result from Justification; he goes on to remark that "since this notion (viz. that works were not necessary) was in vogue in apostolic times the letters of other Apostles, namely, Peter, John, James, and Jude, are especially concerned with showing that faith without works is of no avail." He especially dwells on this feature in St. Peter's Second Epistle, for St. Peter knew that "evil-minded men had taken occasion from certain less clear statements of St. Paul to argue that they need not trouble to live well, since they were sure of that salvation which springs from faith . . . and James himself vehemently attacks" those who proclaim such views, e.g. 2:18-19.
Now, even though we grant that 2 Peter 3:11-18 does refer to St. Paul's doctrine in the Epistle to the Romans, can we adduce any proof that St. James knew this Epistle? If this could be shown, we should have a fixed point for dating St. James' Epistle, viz. later than A.D. 55, when, according to the chronological system we have adopted, Romans was written. It is usually maintained that St. James' Epistle betrays an acquaintance with Romans, but we confess that it is exceedingly difficult to accept the proof offered, for this consists in a series of minute similarities between the two Epistles, and these seem to be little more than commonplaces. Thus we are asked to compare:
St. James Romans 1:3 with 5:4-5 1:22 with 2:13 2:21-24 with 4:9-16 3:8, 5:3 with 3:13 4:1 with 7:23 4:4 with 8:7 4:12 with 14:4 5:4 with 9:29
But it is not identical individual words that are needed to establish such an acquaintance as is suggested; we need phrases. Moreover, had St. James been occupied in disproving a false estimate of St. Paul's doctrine, would he not simply have said "and he was speaking of the works of the Mosaic Law, whereas I am speaking of the 'faith that worketh by charity'"?
E. Canonicity of the Epistle.
Ever since the days of Luther, who termed St. James' Epistle "an Epistle of straw" because of its doctrine on faith and works, there have existed lurking doubts as to the canonicity of this Epistle. It is true that Eusebius speaks of it as "the so-called Epistle of James," but then Origen does the same, though at other times he quotes it freely and as the work of St. James the Apostle. It is true, too, that it does not occur in the Muratorian Fragment. But when we have said this we have practically given all the adverse evidence that exists.
Clement of Rome, 1 Cor. 10, 17, 21, has repeated references to Abraham, and in two of these passages to Abraham as "the friend" of God, as in James 2:21, which is the only place in the New Testament where Abraham is so named, cf. Isaiah 41:8 and 2 Para 20:7; Philo, too, so read Genesis 18:17, and the appellation may have been quite a common one. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that the Pastor of Hermas, c. A.D. 150, and therefore probably cotemporary with the Muratorian Fragment which omits this Epistle, is thoroughly well acquainted with James; thus compare:
Pastor. St. James Simil. vi. 1 and ix. 14 with 1:21 Visio iii. 9 and Simil. i. 8 with 1:27 Simil. viii. 6 with 2:7 Mand. xiii. 5 with 4:7 Mand. xxi. 6 and Simil. ix. 23 with 4:12
Clement of Alexandria quotes the words "charity covereth a multitude of sins," which may either be taken from 1 Peter 4:8  or James 5:20; also the words "God resisteth the proud . . ." either from James 4:6 or 1 Peter 5:5; but he also speaks of being "royal" in a way which reminds us of St. James' "royal way," 2:8. These are but vague and merely possible allusions, and it is the same with St. Irenaeus and his reference to Abraham as "the friend of God."
The same, too, must be said of Tertullian and his reference to Abraham as the "friend" of God.
From this time onwards the Epistle is always known as canonical, and as the work of James the Apostle and the Lord's brother. Eusebius sums up the position fairly when he says: "James is said to be the author of the first of the so-called 'Catholic' Epistles. But it is to be observed that this Epistle is disputed; at any rate, not many of the ancients have mentioned it (yet see above). The same is the case with the Epistle that bears the name of Jude; also one of the so-called seven 'Catholic' Epistles. None the less, we are aware that these Epistles, too, with the rest, have been wont to be read publicly in many Churches." According to Dean Burgon, St. Augustine quotes this Epistle no less than three hundred and eighty-nine times and St. Jerome one hundred and twenty-three times. It is given as one of the canonical books in the catalogues drawn up by St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Amphilochius in the East; and in the West in those of Pope Innocent I, in the Gelasian Decree, in the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, and in St. Augustine.
F. Theology of the Epistle.
God and the Father: He is One, 2:19; is the Father of lights, 1:17; is unchangeable, 1:17; is God and the Father, 1:27, 3:9; His name is invoked on us, 2:7; the Prophets spoke in His name, 5:10; He is Lord, 4:10, 5:10-11; He is the one Lawgiver, 4:12; the one Judge, 4:12; the Lord of Hosts, 5:4; He begot us by His will, 1:18; by the word of truth, 1:18; to be the beginning of His creation, 1:18; He is compassionate, 5:11; giveth abundantly, 1:5; upbraideth not, 1:5; promises the crown of life, 1:12; tempts not to evil, 1:13; we must love Him, 1:12; are made to His image, 2:5; anger worketh not justice according to God, 1:20; the friendship of this world means enmity with God, 4:4; we must be subject to God, 4:7; and draw nigh to Him, 4:8; that He may draw nigh to us, 4:8; we must be humbled before Him, 4:10.
Christology: Christ is the Lord Jesus Christ, 1:1, 2:1; of glory, 2:1; He is the just One, 5:6; was put to death, 5:6; resisted not, 5:6; James is His servant, 1:1; faith in Him demands no respect of persons, 2:1; He is the Judge, 5:9; the sick are to be anointed in His name, 5:14; and He will raise up the sick man, 5:15.
Faith: is said to be "of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory,” 2:1; it is to be tried, 1:3; we must ask in faith, 1:6; the prayer of faith, 5:15; must not be wavering, 1:6-8; the poor are described as "rich in faith," 2:5; faith in relation to works, 2:14, 2:17-26; (a) faith alone will not save us, 2:24; (b) it is made perfect by works, 2:22; (c) without works it is dead, 2:20, 2:26; the devils believe and tremble, 2:19.
Sin: is conceived of concupiscence, 1:15; it brings death, 1:15; breach of the Law on one point is sin against the entire Law, 2:10; sin of deliberate omission, 4:17; sin of respect of persons, 2:9; sin is forgiven in extreme unction, 5:15; confession of sin, 5:16; the conversion of a sinner, 5:19-20.
Temptation: is all joy, 1:2; produces patience, 1:3; gains the crown of life, 1:12; is not from God, 1:13; is the fruit of concupiscence, 1:14.
In addition to the general commentators and dictionaries, see Mayor, The Epistle of St. James, 1913; also Plummer in the Expositor's Bible, 1891; Carr, Cambridge Greek Testament, 1899. Also articles in R.B., 1895, p. 272; 1896, October; 1898, p. 77; 1905, January and October; 1910, January; 1915, January; also Problems in James, chap. iii., in Expositor, September, 1918.
1. Mark 15:40
2. Ga 1:19. Eusebius always refers to this James as "the so-called" brother of the Lord, H.E. I. xii. 4; III. vii. 9; IV. v. 3; VII. xix.; cp. St. Jerome on Ga 1:19, P.L. XXVI. 330, and Origen, "Jacobus Apostolus dicit," quoting James 1:17, Lib. IX. 24 in Ep. ad Rom., and again, "Jacobum fratrem Domini," ib. IV. 8; cp. Contra Celsum, I. 47.
3. This follows from the foregoing; for if the writer of the Epistle is "James the Lord's brother," then he is the same James who, though never termed "Bishop of Jerusalem" in the N.T., yet exercises functions which are only compatible with superiority, e.g. Acts 12:17, 15:13-22, 21:18, and Ga 1:19. That he was appointed to the Bishopric of Jerusalem by Christ Himself is in the Clementine Recognitions, I. 43, also in the Apostolic Constitutions, VIII. 35, and is repeated by St. Chrysostom, Hom. XXXVIII. on I Cor., ed. Gaume, X. 414.
4. See above, note 1, and on "The Brethren of the Lord".
5. See above, note 1. It is true that in the Apostolic Constitutions, II. 55, and VI. 12, as well, perhaps, in H.E. I. xii., it seems to be implied that James was not a member of the apostolic body, yet over against this we have the positive statement of Ga 1:19.
6. Note how careful St. Luke is to distinguish the two "James." When he tells us of the martyrdom of the son of Zebedee, Acts 12:1, he describes him as "the brother of John," so that it is impossible to make any mistake about his identity. But throughout the rest of Acts he simply speaks of "James" without any appellative, since the other James was already dead; cf. Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18, and cp. Ga 1:19, 2:9, 2:12. In much the same way the author of the Fourth Gospel simply speaks of "John" throughout, the reason being that be himself was the only other John, and his readers knew this (see vol. ii., p. 283).
7. Acts 15.
8. Ga 2:1.
9. Ibid. 2:9.
10. 1 Cr 15:7
11. H.E. II. i. 1-4.
12. H.E. II. xxiii. 1-25.
13. Contra Celsum, I. 47, II. 13, and Tom. X. 17 in Matt.
14. De Viris Illustr. III, P.L. XXIII. 609.
15. "It is not altogether certain," says Cardinal Cajetan in his Commentary, "whether this Epistle is by James, the Lord's brother, or not. . . . It is suggested that it was written by someone else under the name of this James, and that in course of time it thus became authoritative. The opening salutation is so bald as to be without parallel in other apostolic letters. There is not a word about God nor about Jesus Christ, not a word about grace or peace; simply 'salutation,' after the manner of a profane writing. Moreover, it is addressed to the twelve tribes dispersed; for of every tribe some members were thus dispersed throughout the world. Consequently, it ought rather to be called a book than a letter, since it was not written to be delivered to the twelve tribes dispersed—for that would have been impossible; it is meant to instruct them." This is a good example of Cajetan's boldness of view. There is no authority whatever for saying that this Epistle was written in the name of James by someone else; neither is there any need to do so.
16. H.E. II. xxiii. 6.
17. Ant. XX. ix.
18. H.E., l.c.
19. H.E., l.c., and III. xi, 1.
20. For the date of Albinus' succession cf. Wars, VI. v. 3.
21. H.E. II. xxiii. 20.
22. Contra Celsum, I. 47; II. 13; Tom. X. 17 in Matt.
23. P.G. XIX. 543.
24. Interpretatio Chron. Eusebii, P.L. XXVII. 586. St. Jerome calls this the eighth year of Nero; all depends on how be calculated the regnal years.
25. Thus Cajetan, in loco, says "caeterorum, pro marinorum."
26. I Clem, xi, xxiii.
27. Pastor, Vis. I. 1, III. 4, cp. II. 2; Simil. VIII. 8, 9, 10, 11.
28. The * denotes the more striking parallels.
29. Yet see Proverbs 3:34, where the LXX version has the words, with, however, κύριος for ὁ θεός.
30. E.g. De Spirituet Littera, P.L. XLIV; De Fide Operibus, P.L. XL.
31. De Diversis Quaestionibus, LXXXIII, P.L. XL. 87-88.
32. "Sequuntur enim justificatum, non praecedunt justifcandum," De Fide et Operibus, xiv (21), P.L. XL. 211.
34. H.E. III. xxv. 3.
35. Tom. XIX. 6 in Joan.
36. Tom. XX. 10 in Joan.; Lib. IV. 8 and IX. 24 Ep. ad Rom., where he quotes James 1:17, 4:4, and 4:7-8.
37. Cf. vol. ii., pp 89-90.
38. Strom. IV. 18.
39. Strom. III. 6 and IV. 17.
40. Strom. VI. 18.
41. Adv. Haer. IV. xiii.4.
42. Adv. Judaeos, II.
43. H.E. II. xxiii. 5.
44. See Sanday in Studia Biblica, I. 128.
45. See vol. ii., pp. 85-88.
Very Rev. Hugh Pope, O.P., S.T.M.
Doctor in Sacred Scripture,
Member of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, and
late Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the Collegio Angelico, Rome.
Luke Walker, O.P., S.T.L.;
Austin Barker, O.P., S.T.L.
Bede Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., M.A.