A good friend of mine died this morning. Her painful battle with cancer over the last few years has been a constant reminder that our hope is in the resurrection at the future reign of our Lord. While this is a blog on all things jacobean, the apostle Paul every once in a while gets it right!
|Λογίζομαι γὰρ ὅτι οὐκ ἄξια τὰ παθήματα τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι εἰς ἡμᾶς.
||I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18 NIV).
I find it interesting that Paul compares our “present sufferings” with the glory to be revealed in us. After all, in human experience it is pain that often makes the deepest impression on us in our lives. The abuse we suffer at home or on the playground can scar us deeply, and the misery of illness can wear thin the thickest shield of faith. Yet all of this present suffering is nothing compared to the glory revealed in us at the resurrection. James calls his readers to faithful endurance while waiting for what Paul called the “glory to be revealed” at the coming of the Lord.
|Μακροθυμήσατε οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἕως τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου. ἰδοὺ ὁ γεωργὸς ἐκδέχεται τὸν τίμιον καρπὸν τῆς γῆς μακροθυμῶν ἐπ᾽αὐτῷ ἕως λάβῃ πρόϊμον καὶ ὄψιμον. μακροθυμήσατε καὶ ὑμεῖς, στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἤγγικεν
||Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (James 5:7-8 NIV).
In this passage James likens the coming of the Lord to the arrival of the rain in Palestine. As a farmer waits for the rain, we are to wait for the “reign” of Christ. The farmer, whose livelihood and survival depends on the proper timing of the rain, is still subject to the timing of things. He can do nothing but wait patiently. We, who often don’t realize it but also depend wholly upon the “reign” must wait patiently as well. We are to endure faithfully, but we do not endure without hope. Our wait should be tempered with the reality that any suffering we endure is a shadow of the intensity of an eternity under the righteous rule of the Savior.
My thesis is dedicated to Sandy who no longer has to wait for the reign. May its words teach me and perhaps others to pray with Elijah-like fervency for the coming reign.
Rinaldo Fabris, in a footnote (p. 347, n. 46) mentions a string of citations illustrating the importance of rain (in reference to his comments on Jas 5:17-18). One of the citations was to Jubilees 12:4, 18. Below is the text of Jubilees 12 according to Charles’ APOT:
1 And it came to pass in the sixth week, in the seventh year thereof, that Abram said to Terah his father, saying, ‘Father!’ 2 . . . , ‘What help and profit have we from those idols which thou dost worship, . . . ? . . . 4 Worship the God of heaven, Who causes the rain and the dew to descend on the earth And does everything upon the earth, And has created everything by His word, And all life is from before His face. . . .
Though his father does not react positively to Abraham’s revelation at first, Abraham does destroy all of the household idols. (He also marries Sarah here in the narrative. The theme of rain continues, however:
16 And in the sixth week, in the fifth year thereof, Abram sat up throughout the night on the new moon of the seventh month to observe the stars from the evening to the morning, in order to see what would be the character of the year with regard to the rains, and he was alone as he sat and observed. 17 And a word came into his heart and he said: All the signs of the stars, and the signs of the moon and of the sun are all in the hand of the Lord. Why do I search (them) out? 18 If He desires, He causes it to rain, morning and evening; And if He desires, He withholds it, And all things are in his hand.’ 19 And he prayed that night and said, ‘My God, God Most High, Thou alone art my God, And Thee and Thy dominion have I chosen. And Thou hast created all things, And all things that are the work of thy hands. 20 Deliver me from the hands of evil spirits who have dominion over the thoughts of men’s hearts, And let them not lead me astray from Thee, my God. And stablish Thou me and my seed for ever That we go not astray from henceforth and for evermore.’
Note that he prays for deliverance from “evil spirits who have dominion over the thoughts of men’s hearts” (cf. Jas 1:13-15) and that he and his seed will not go astray (cf. Jas 5:19-20). Verbal parallels should be checked… David Instone-Brewer suggests that James is a homily on the life of Abraham (as transmitted in Jubilees). He does not mention the possibility of a connection here at James 5:17-18 via Jubilees 12. This should be explored.
Here is a link to a papyrus fragment containing James 3:13-4:4; 4:9-5:1:
An article by David Instone-Brewer, titled “James as a Sermon on the Trials of Abraham,” is available for reading on Amazon along with other essays collected in The New Testament in Its First Century Setting: Essays on Context and Background in Honour of B. W. Winter on his 65th Birthday (eds. P. J. Williams, et al.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 250-268.
Use Amazon’s “search inside the book” feature to look for the article and read online!
The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology has published an entire issue on the Epistle of James (vol. 4, no. 3 ). This issue has been made available online by Southern Seminary.
Download the complete complete Journal as a PDF file here. Or download the individual articles below:
Neil Fernyhough, “Constructing the world of wealth in the Epistle of James.” M.Th. thesis. Vancouver School of Theology, 2001. Abstract available HERE. Full text PDF available HERE.
Alicia Batten, “Unworldly friendship: the Epistle of Straw reconsidered.” Ph.D. diss. University of St. Michael’s College, 2000. Abstract available HERE. Full text PDF available HERE.
Mark E. Taylor, “Recent Scholarship on the Structure of James.” Currents in Biblical Research 3 (2004): 86-115.
The abstract of the article is as follows:
The letter of James, although often neglected in the history of New Testament scholarship, has received renewed interest in the last three decades. Much of the discussion has focused on the letter’s structure, and the result has been a significant departure from the old paraenetic, ‘unstructured’ view of James set forth by Martin Dibelius in favor of a view that sees much more unity and ordering within the composition. Since an assessment of structure virtually determines interpretation, one is not surprised to discover within recent scholarship a thorough re-evaluation of the letter. This shift in perspective raises important questions. Why has scholarship generally set aside Dibelius’s long-standing approach? What new structures have been offered? How crucial is a definitive ‘structure’ to our understanding of the content of the letter? While the overall question of the structure of James is far from settled, some areas of consensus have emerged, and the stage is set for further dialogue.
A full text electronic version of this article is available online at the SAGE Publications website HERE.
The Society of Biblical Literature regularly provides book reviews, collected into the Review of Biblical Literature, and made freely available online. Below is a list of books reviewed on topics related to both the epistle & the historical James:
- Klein, Martin. “Ein vollkommenes Werk “: Vollkommenheit, Gesetz und Gericht als theologische Themen des Jakobusbriefes. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1995. Review by Todd C. Penner. HERE
- Hartin, Patrick J. James of Jerusalem: Heir to Jesus of Nazareth. The Liturgical Press, 2004. Reviews by L. T. Johnson, P. H. Davids & Darian Lockett HERE
- Hartin, Patrick J. A Spirituality of Perfection: Faith in Action in the Letter of James. The Liturgical Press, 1999. Review by Christopher Bowman. HERE Reviews by Christopher Bowman & Matthias Konradt. HERE
- Johnson, Luke Timothy. Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James. Eerdmans, 2004. Reviews by Markus Öhler, William Wilson, Steve Patton & Kari Syreeni. HERE
- Wall, Robert W. Community of the Wise: The Letter of James. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997. Review by Patrick J. Hartin. HERE
- Schmitz, Franz-Jürgen, Ed. Das Verhältnis der Koptischen zur Griechischen Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments: Dokumentation und Auswertung der Gesamtmaterialien Beider Traditionen zum Jacobsbrief und den Beiden Petrusbriefen. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003. Review by Thomas J. Kraus. HERE
- Popkes, Wiard. Der Brief des Jakobus. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2001. Review by Matthias Konradt. HERE
- Wachtel, Klaus. Der Byzantinische Text der Katholischen Briefe: Eine Untersuchung zur Entstehung der Koine des Neuen Testaments. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995. Review by W. Larry Richards. HERE
- Perkins, Pheme. First and Second Peter, James, and Jude. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1995. Review by Andrew Chester. HERE
- Edgar, David Hutchinson. Has God Not Chosen the Poor?: The Social Setting of the Epistle of James. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. Reviews by Matt A. Jackson-Mccabe & Matthias Konradt. HERE
- Sleeper, C. Freeman. James. Nashville: Abingdon, 1998. Review by Matt A Jackson-Mccabe. HERE
- Hartin, Patrick J. James. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003. Review by Tobias Nicklas. HERE
Brosend Ii, William F. James and Jude. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Review by Tommy Wasserman. HERE
- Painter, John. Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997. Review by Robert Eisenman. HERE
- Jackson-Mccabe, Matt A. Logos and Law in the Letter of James: The Law of Nature, the Law of Moses and the Law of Freedom. Reviews by Joel B Green & Matthias Konradt. HERE
- Thomas, John Christopher. The Devil, Disease, and Deliverance: Origins of Illness in New Testament Thought. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998. Review by Graham Twelftree. HERE
- Penner, Todd C. The Epistle of James and Eschatology: Re-reading an Ancient Christian Letter. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996. Review by Peter H. Davids. HERE
- Osburn, Carroll D. The Text of the Apostolos in Epiphanius of Salamis. Atlanta/Leiden: Society of Biblical Literature/Brill, 2004. Reviews by Tommy Wasserman & Peter Williams. HERE
These articles on James are hosted on a fantastic site provided by Ted Hildebrandt, professor at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. See his faculty page at Gordon College HERE.
- Burns, John A. “James, The Wisdom of Jesus.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 113-135. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Davis, George B. “Preaching From the Book of James.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 137-147. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Dockery, David S. “Commenting on Commentaries on the Book of James.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 167-169. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Dockery, David S. “True Piety in James: Ethical Admonitions and Theological Implications.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 51-70. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Heide, Gale Z. “The Soteriology of James 2:14.” GTJ 12.1 (1992): 69-97. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Hiebert, D. Edmond. “The Unifying Theme of the Epistle of James.” BibSac 135 (1978): 221-31. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Howard, Tracy L. “Suffering in James 1:2-12.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 71-84. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Rakestraw, Robert V. “James 2:14-26: Does James Contradict the Pauline Soteriology.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 31-50. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Sloan, Robert B. “The Christology of James.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 3-29. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
- Warden, Duane. “The Rich and Poor in James: Implications for Institutionalized Partiality.” JETS 43.2 (June 2000): 247-257. *.pdf
- Wells, C. Richard. “The Theology of Prayer in James.” CTR 1.1 (1986): 85-112. *.html, *.pdf, *.doc
CTR=Criswell Theological Review; JETS=Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society; BibSac=Bibliotheca Sacra; GTJ=Grace Theological Journal