Friday, July 28, 2006

Book Meme

1. One book that changed your life: Jesus and the Victory of God: Wright
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: God Crucified (Bauckham)
3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Davies & Allison on the Gospel of Matt
4. One book that made you laugh: On Seeing and Noticing: Alain De Botton
5. One book that made you cry: The God of Jesus: Patterson
6. One book that you wish had been written: Any Jewish Christian writing back to the author of any of the canonical gospels
7. One book that you wish had never been written: Contagious Holiness: Blomberg
8. One book you’re currently reading: Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Johnson
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: The Drama of Doctrine: Vanhoozer [I just can’t seem to find time to finish it!]
10. One last book that you love: The Moral Vision of the NT: Hays

Who does “LORD” refer to in James?

William Baker EQ 74:1 (2002) 47-57 take issue with Hurtado's claims, posted above, about a few references of LORD. Does it refer to Jesus or GOD? By what criteria shall we measure this? Is the ambiguity intentional?

Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that." Jas. 4:15 – Does this refer to Jesus or the Father?
As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Jas. 5:10 – This appears to be more of a reference to YHWH or the Father than Jesus, so what reason could Hurtado have for thinking this refers to CHRIST? I was surprised to see that Hurtado fails to deal with James in his tome: LORD JESUS CHRIST, since that is the opening verse in James! Scant attention is paid to the allegiance/devotion to Jesus represented in this letter. Maybe a lacuna for some other soul to fill? The constant neglect of James in my various readings provokes odd theological thoughts... More on those, perhaps later.
In Jas. 5:7, 8, 14, 15 – LORD = Jesus.

In Jas. 1:7; 3:9; 4:10; 5:4 – LORD = Father.
Jesus is clearly referred to as LORD in six of the 15 uses of LORD in James. So what kind of Christology does James have? It seems impatient to suggest that James has a low Christology, given that the title LORD is used. I can concur that James does not develop a Christology, but to suggest that his Christology is some how inferior to Paul is premature.
Does James has a Christology similar to that of the Sphinx in Gone in 60 Seconds?
If his premature demise has, in some way, enlightened the rest of you as to the grim finish below the glossy veneer of criminal [sinful?] life, and inspired you to change your ways, then his death carries with it an inherent nobility. And a supreme glory. We should all be so fortunate.
While not specifically referring to the death of Jesus, does James' Christology function in the same way? As a moral exhortation to the communities that pledge allegiance to this king?
I'll pause for reflection and comments before launching further...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jesus and the Jewish Nation

Quite frankly this is STILL one of the best articles I have ever read. Inspiring, incisive and prophetic. This should be required reading for anyone and everyone engaged in historical Jesus research. Thanks much to Rob Bradshaw's efforts! Pass this on, and read it! Read it! Read it!

Christology of James - Hurtado

The Epistle of James is mainly concerned with exhortation about right behaviour; its Christology is implicit and largely a reflection of what the author and first readers held as traditional. Whatever one’s view of the question of authorship, the attribution of the document to James the brother of Jesus, the description of the addressees as “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion” (Jas 1:1) and other factors, including the strongly eschatological outlook (e.g., Jas 5:1–9), combine to give the document a Jewish Christian flavour. It is therefore interesting to note what the author and readers (who either were Jewish Christians or revered Jewish Christian traditions) must have regarded as traditional and uncontroversial Christology.

Jesus bears the titles Christ and Lord (kyrios) in formulaic expressions (Jas 1:1; 2:1). Indeed in James 2:1 we have mention of “the glorious Lord Jesus Christ” (tou kyriou hemon Iesou Christou tes doxes), giving a particularly sonorous and honorific expression. In several other cases Jesus is probably intended in references to “the Lord.” This holds for James 4:15, for example, where the will of “the Lord” is to govern Christian decisions. In James 5:7–11 it is also probable that Jesus is the “Lord” whose coming is awaited (Jas 5:7–8) and the judge standing at the door (Jas 5:9), in whose name the OT prophets spoke (Jas 5:10) and whose mercy and compassion are applauded (Jas 5:11). In all these cases it is noteworthy that Jesus is referred to in roles associated with God in the OT.

Jesus is likewise probably the “Lord” in whose name the sick are to be anointed and who will raise the sick and forgive their sins (Jas 5:13–15). There is probably a reference to Jesus’ name in James 2:7 as “invoked [in baptism?] over you” and blasphemed by opponents. This emphasis upon the sacred significance of Jesus’ name accords with references in Acts 1–11 and other evidence of Jewish Christian attitudes.

In addition many commentators have noted that this epistle is full of allusions to sayings of Jesus preserved in the Synoptic Gospels. This indicates both a familiarity with the Jesus tradition and a practical acceptance of Jesus’ authority as Lord of Christian behaviour. We may say that James emphasizes the practical and ethical consequences of the christological convictions shared by the author and intended readers.[1]
[1] Larry Hurtado “Christology” in Martin, Ralph P.; Davids, Peter H. Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments (IVP, 2000)

Friday, July 14, 2006

St Andrews - Hebrews

St. Andrews is hosting an international conference on Hebrews and Theology. Many of the short papers are available online here. Key note speakers include R. Hays, M. Hooker and John Webster.

Convener of the conference is none other than Richard Bauckham, who recently penned: "Monotheism and Christology in Hebrews 1," in L. T. Stuckenbruck and W. E. S. North ed., Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism (JSNTSS 263; London/New York: Continuum [T. & T. Clark], 2004) 167-185.
For all you Hebrews students, check it out...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Outrageous Questions

Many of the books that I have read [Johnson, Davids, et. al.] refer to the possibility of James having the same provenance as the infamous "Q" source [P.J. Hartin James and the Q Sayings of Jesus (Sheffield: JSOT press, 1991), Martin, James, lxxvi]. Given the allusions and possible quotations that James has to Matt & Luke, what is the relationship between James and Q? I have only questions at this stage, and they are pretty outrageous questions!
    1. Did Q look like James in its structure and content? [Will Kloppenberg's forthcoming commentary on James argue this?]
    2. Did James have access to Q when he wrote his letter? [Will Allison's forthcoming commentary argue this? As does P.J. Hartin James and the Q Sayings of Jesus (Sheffield: JSOT press, 1991)]
    3. Was James the collator/redactor of Q ? [a PhD idea for some poor soul?]
    4. Or worse [better?], did James author Q ? [Who's brave enough to suggest that?]

But, given the fact that I am a Q sceptic, like Mark Goodacre [See The Case Against Q], how do those who reject the existence of a documentary Q, explain the Jesus tradition in James?

    1. What is the relationship between Matt and James? [There's more likely a relationship between Matt/James then Luke/James, or did I miss something?]
    2. Was Matthew, James' scribe? Or vice versa?
    3. Or, if Martin [James, lxxvii] is right about the two stage production of James, did Matt edit James? [Martin proposes an Antiochene provenance based on Zimmermann's Die urchristlichen Lehrer (Mohr, 1984)]
    4. Is there space for James in the Synoptic Problem? (Did Matthew have access to James?) [According to the Blog Father, Michael Goulder actually proposed that James had access to Matt. But when do we date them then?]
    5. Could one postulate an early date for the gospel of Matthew, based on the early dating of James? [Who could propose this argument and actually get away with it? Bauckham? Hengel? Wenham?]
    6. Or do we just assume it's oral tradition and carry on as usual? [This appears to be the view of Brosend, James and Jude, pg. 11]
    7. What could be the possible criteria for postulating these theories? How would we judge them?

There seems to be a real hesitancy for scholars to engage these questions. So why not just expand your mind and let your presuppositions go, and imagine quite a few variant scenario's for the relationship between James and the Jesus traditions... Which one's are more plausible or probable than others? And why?

A future blog will hopefully catalogue the various sayings of Jesus compared with James. I'm trying to get my hands on Dean Deppe's study [The Sayings of Jesus in the Epistle of James], which most regard as very influential in this realm of Jacobean studies.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Political Theology?

James Darlack, the resident blogosphere's Jacobean expert, has an interesting post on James' Political Theology. In an article by Stuart Laidlaw on James' Theology, Laidlaw focusses on Barrie Wilson of York University:
. . . James was continuing with the teaching of his brother, emphasizing a more political form of religion that stressed the coming of a messiah to overthrow the Romans and restore the kingdom of Israel. . . . The theology of James, with its emphasis on political change as a way to address poverty and injustice, is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago, Wilson says.
Darlack then questions: Does care of widows and orphans, a disdain for economic favoritism and the denunciation of social injustice necessitate "political religion" or prophetic religion?
My question is simply: Why [and if so, how?] are these two mutually exclusive? Politics and religion are insepparable, and it was it not the burden of the prophets to influence/direct Jewish politics? Jesus was certainly a prophet, but he was also engaged in serious politics [hence Roman opposition]. Now, while I'm not convinced that either James or Jesus sought to overthrow the Romans and restore the Kingdom of Israel [unless one meant a non-violent overthrow through passive resistance], James may still be a political manifesto for those living under the royal law - the Torah of King Jesus.

Imaginary Conversation

Ben Myers has a delightful imagined conversation between Barth and Bultmann. I don't read novels, but if there were more written like this, that so succinctly explicated theology, I would surely start this journey into imagination.
[For those with ears to hear, I side with Brian Smith (a closet ........)]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Stuff On James

There are few resources available on James, that have not already been mentioned by James Darlack's blog: But these are a few that may be missing from his list...

Douglas Moo reviews William R. Baker's book: Personal Speech-Ethics in the Epistle of James. Moo is concerned about the exegetical intergration of background material and the exegesis of James provided by Baker. Although Moo has a helpful comment to make about Dissertations, I fear he is being too critical at this juncture. Many I have spoken to thoroughly recommend this work But unfortunately it is FAR too expensive [Do a search on Amazon UK or USA] and no library around here has a copy, so we shall have to delete that from the reading list.
I'm also trying to get my hands on: Joel Marcus, “The Evil Inclination in the Epistle of James,” CBQ 44 (1982). 606–21. If anyone has a digital copy or knows a site that has it, I would be rather happy to get my paws on it... Ebsco only goes back to 1990 with CBQ and our library is missing that specific volume... :(

Other than that, its back to the drawing board: thinking outrageous thoughts on James and Political Theology...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Old Resources - New!

James Darlack lists some old resources on James that have been made available. I hear that Manton's exposition, while more devotional, is still very good. Be sure to check these out...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Secret Mark

I suggested to Rob Bradshaw a while ago that he should get G. B. Caird's lecture: Jesus and the Jewish Nation and upload it. So he decided to try and get the whole series of Ethel M. Wood lectures, the first of which is linked below. It's great to see this happening, and the first of hopefully many to come is:

Prof. F.F. Bruce, The 'Secret' Gospel of Mark. The Ethel M. Wood lecture delivered before the University of London on 11 February 1974. London: The Athlone Press, 1974. Pbk. ISBN: 0485143186. pp.20.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Church on James

Hebrews-James by Edgar V. McKnight & Christopher Church [Smyth & Helwys commentary series.]
In his accompanying commentary on the Letter of James, New Testament scholar Christopher Church presents the letter as something of a biblical and historical fossil, a surviving representative of a once-flourishing Jewish Christianity. The Letter of James exposes a form of early Christianity distinct from the Pauline line that later predominated. In the picture that is created of this early Christian community, we find concerns over ethical responsibility and social justice that still serve to define Christian communities today.
The 30pg intro and comments on Jas. 1:1-27 are available for free download. You have to scroll down to pg 59 to get to the start of the James introduction. It looks to be rather useful, with colour charts and diagrams, with photo's. Check it out...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Philosophical Humour...

Monty Python's International Philosophy.
I certainly concur with Cynthia Nielson, this is FUNNY!
Unfortunately, many will not appreciate the humour represented. But at least some will identify with the losing team.... [I too cried when the Germans lost...]

Brosend on James

The New Cambridge Bible Commentary on James and Jude by William F. Brosend, II was recently released and Cambridge offers there usual free excerpt. The table of contents are also available as well as a sample chapter. The Blurb reads:
This is the first commentary to focus exclusively on the two letters written by the 'brothers of the Lord', James and Jude. Each letter is discussed on its own merits, and interpreted as having been written early in the life of the Church - it is posited that the letter of James may be one of the oldest Christian writings as well as an early witness to the teachings of Jesus. Particular attention is devoted to understanding the social worlds of James and Jude and to interpreting the significance of their message for our day. Of special interest is the focus on the 'ideological texture' of James, in particular on James' working out of the ethical implications of the teachings of Jesus on poverty and wealth.
This looks good and promises many homiletical as well as exegetical insights... Check it out...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Outline of James

1:1 - Greetings
1:2-27 Introductory Summary of Exhortations
1:2-4 - Face the testing of your faith with Joy and endurance
1:5-8 - Ask God for wisdom, in faith and without doubting
1:9-11 - Let the lowly believer rejoice in being raised up and the rich in being brought low
1:12-16 - Your are blessed if you endure testing – which comes not from God but from inner desires
1:17-18 - God is a generous and faithful giver, who through his word has made us the beginning of his new creation
1:19-21 - Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger
1:22-25 - Be doers of God’s word, and not merely hearers
1:26-27 - The nature of false and true religion
2:1-5:20 Twelve Extended Exhortations
2:1-13 - Favouritism conflicts with the law of love
2:14-26 - Faith without deeds is dead
3:1-12 - The threat and power of speech
3:13-18 - The nature of false and true wisdom
4:1-10 - A call to turn from friendship with the world to friendship with God
4:11-12 - Exhortation not to judge each other
4:13-17 - The arrogance of business people
5:1-6 - The oppression of landowners
5:7-11 - Endure patiently the testing of your faith, because the Lord’s coming is near
5:12 - Speak the plain truth
5:13-18 - Pray for the suffering, the sick, and all in need of forgiveness
5:19-20 - Take responsibility for mutual correction
James does have an overall aim: to move his readers towards ‘perfection’ (1:4; 3:2) through fulfilment of ‘the law of freedom’ (1:25; 2:8, 10, 12) and through the wisdom God gives (1:5; 3:17). But this does not entail persuading his readers through an argument pursued sequentially through the letter. It entails providing his readers with a compendium of wisdom instruction on a varied range of topics relevant to fulfilling the law, implementing the wisdom from above, and attaining perfection. In so far as James has a coherent vision of the way he and his readers should live, there will be thematic connections between his treatments of these various topics, but this kind of coherence of thought should not be confused with the notion of sequential development.[1] [1] Bauckham, James, pg. 67

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Commentaries on James

Parableman lists these as forthcoming commentaries on James. I'm mostly looking forward to Allison, McKnight and Witherington. Joel Green may surprise me, I hope but Kloppenborg probably won't.

Dale Allison (ICC) - it will be good to see how Allison handles the echoes of Jesus' teachings in James.

Bill Baker (Two Horizons NTC)

Daniel Doriani (REC)

Timothy George (BTCB)

Joel B. Green (NT Library)

John S. Kloppenborg (Hermenia) - how has James appropriated the 3rd strata of "Q"? Or is James the source of "Q"?

Dan G. McCartney (Bakers Exegetical CNT)

Scot McKnight (NICNT replacement) - What exegetical insights will McKnight bring to the table? A New Vision for Israel perhaps? (cf. Jas 1:1)

Ben Witherington (Letters and Homilies of the NT, fall 2007) - Sapiential Sage?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Shifting Focus - to Jacob/James

When Mike Bird posted his thoughts on being a Specialist of a Generalist, I didn't agree with him. I love the gospels, especially Matt and I prided myself on the fact that I did every single paper available at Uni on the gospels and Jesus. I did Romans and Galatians as fill in subjects, they were very good.
Then, Alan Bandy got me hooked on Revelation. I spent a whole summer vacation reading little else except Bauckham, Beale, Osbourne, Witherington and then Aune. I didn't finish it all - not even close. But I did learn that there was more to life than Gospels and Paul. Then I did a series on Colossians, which was kinda fun but it felt so familiar. I was back in a comfort zone. Now I've embarked on a journey with James - inspired by James Darlack's blog. It has been so fascinating and I'm beginning to think that Bauckham is on to something with his focus on NT letters outside the Pauline corpus.
For the next while this blog will focus all things Jacobean. As I learn, and think out loud, I invite others to email or post questions and comments that will engage with James and the scholarship that surrounds the Brother of Jesus, the friend of God [to borrow Johnson's title of this collection of studies].
So sit back, and enjoy the ride...