Friday, July 28, 2006

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...


jdarlack said...

I agree - to state that James has a "low Christology" simply because he has not developed it at length is "premature." it's ultimately an argument from silence. If anything, Baker's article is wonderful to show that even a study more reluctant to take some passages using "LORD" to refer to Jesus allows James to show a very high, if undeveloped Christology. I especially appreciate Bakers' point that James' reappropriation of Jesus' teachings points to a high view of Jesus - as does James' incorporation of Jesus' name into prayer for healing (in ch. 5).

Michael F. Bird said...

The meaning of kurios in James was vigorously disputed at SNTS this past week with Kloppenborg arguing that it means YHWH. I'm not quite so sure.