Epistle of James

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The Epistle of James is a letter that was canonized into all Christian bibles. The author identifies himself simply as "James," but there are at least six people so named in the bible, two of which are described as apostles of Jesus, as well as any number of people named James not mentioned in the bible. Christians can't agree on which, but the most common line of thought comes from Catholic dogma which maintains that the author is James, son of Alphaeus who is also believed to be the same person as James the Just. The document is dated by scholars anywhere between 60 CE and 125 CE. Those who believe that the author was a James from the bible have no choice but to believe an early date when James was still be alive. No authors write about the letter until around 180 CE. The majority of Christians didn't agree the epistle should be part of the Christian canon until around 350 CE.

Status

I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read the NIV.

Review

  • More of the same from the previous epistles. Just a bunch of generic "don't do bad things, do good things." And the author repeats himself several times making for boring reading.
  • The author also makes everything out to be black and white. If you're humble, you're of God, but if you're selfish, you're of the devil (3:13). While I can understand this as a general rule, the author doesn't leave room for any nuance. Is it selfish to keep food for the future in order to prevent starvation, or should you always humbly give it away to the hungry and run the risk of your own starvation?
  • The author says that "faith without deeds is useless," (2:20) which doesn't fit with Romans 4:5 which says that God counts faith as righteous even without works.
  • The author suggests that the most important thing for a Christian to do, even above not bragging, not oppressing, not playing favorites, and even more important than submitting yourself to God, is to not swear oaths! (4:12). This hugely contradicts the majority of the bible.
  • The letter is lacking in structure. Aside from the single-sentence introduction, the letter is a mishmash of thoughts and ends abruptly.

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