Friday, August 04, 2006

Bauckham on James

Richard Bauckham - James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage (Routledge, 1999). This I read in conjunction with his essay "The Spirit of God in Us Loathes Envy: James 4:5" in The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins: Essays in Honour of J. D. G. Dunn (ed.) G. Stanton, B. W. Longenecker, S. C. Barton (Eerdmans, 2004). In this latter essay, Bauckham technically advances the case that James 4:5 be translated: The Spirit of God in Us Loathes Envy (the very title of his essay). Bauckham suggests that:

"The quotation in 4:5 provides the scriptural basis for this by pointing out God's enmity twoards envy. This contextual consideration makes it much more likely that, if this proposal for translation is correct, then refers to the divine Spirit rather than the human spirit. A reference to the human spirit here would be an unnecessaryily indirect way of pointing out God's own opposition to envy...

Understanding James as deploying here a wisdom pneumatology () fits very well with our proposed understanding of the quotation in 4:5. Both the wisdom from above of 3:13-18 and the Spirit of 4:5 are opposed to envy." [pg. 278]

Bauckham's book on James is not for the novice. It has loads of excellent historical analysis and probes various historical issues. But I've got to wonder if this book was just written for scholars. Yes, he does have a superb section the contemporary application of James in the final chapter. Yes, he does have an excellent introduction. But other than that, and his section on James in canonical perspective, this book is exegetically thin. [Not something I was expecting, but maybe that's my problem?]
Bauckham's outline is helpful and his analysis of ancient wisdom compared with James is also insightful. I would have liked to see Bauckham develop his Christological Monotheism and the Identity of God in James' letter more. The conflation of LORD, a title reserved for YHWH, used for Jesus as well as GOD needs to be thrashed out by Bauckham's tinker.
Overall, Bauckham is a fantastic scholar and there are tons of useful insights. Maybe not as helpful for the preacher as for the scholar, but still well worth the effort. And the fact that Bauckham keeps up to date with theologians is astounding.
Make sure you check this out...

No comments: