Letter of James this week at International SBL

The International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature takes place this week at King’s College London, walking distance from Westminster Abbey (right). This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, but my interest (as usual) pertains to the Letter of James. Below are the abstracts of papers related to the Letter of James being presented this week at the SBL International Meeting…

Alien(n)ation: Reading the Epistle of James through the Psychology of Migration
Program Unit: Psychological Hermeneutics of Biblical Themes and Texts
Margaret Aymer, Interdenominational Theological Center

The epistle of James addresses itself to “the exiles in diaspora.” This paper suggests taking this framing seriously. Using the psychology of migration developed by John Berry and nuanced by diaspora theorists like Avtar Brah, this paper demonstrates that James proposes a migrant stance of alienation vis-a-vis the community’s relationship with home and host culture. Further, James creates a “diaspora space” (Brah) of an “alien nation,” one that exists in but is “unstained” by the cosmos. The paper goes on to suggest the implications of the proposed migrant stances of James and of other New Testament authors for communities that use these ancient texts as scripture. It argues that the “scripturalization” of texts with different migrant stances as the central identifying referent of a community impacts the identity, political engagement, and world stance of that community, regardless of whether the community is, itself, made of migrants.

Redundancy, Discontinuity and Delimitation in the Epistle of James
Program Unit: Hellenistic Greek Language and Linguistics
Steven E. Runge, Logos Bible Software

The letter of James contains a number of instances of nominative or vocative forms of address in contexts where the addressees are already well established. These expressions often co-occur with what form criticism has labeled “disclosure formulas,” and are sometimes associated with marking boundaries within the discourse. This paper examines the role that semantic redundancy plays in judgments about the discourse function of these expressions. It also considers the role location plays on these judgments, both with respect to the clause and the paragraph. It will be demonstrated that when these expressions are not semantically required, they serve as an alternative means to conjunctions for marking new developments within the discourse, and thus play an important role in delimiting pericope boundaries within the epistle.

“…the Scripture Speaks against Envy”: Another Look at James 4:5
Program Unit: Pastoral and Catholic Epistles
Clinton Wahlen, Biblical Research Institute

Despite the predominantly negative usage of phthonos in Greek literature, including its NT usage, a long-standing consensus understands God to be the subject of the clause with pros phthonon in James 4:5. This paper, following a brief survey of proposed solutions, will present a viable alternative that makes better sense of the syntax of the verse within its immediate context (vv. 1-10).

Theme: Book Review: Matt A. Jackson-McCabe, Logos and Law in the Letter of James (Society of Biblical Literature, 2001)
Program Unit: Pastoral and Catholic Epistles

Felix H. Cortez, Universidad de Montemorelos, Presiding
Mariam Kamell, Regent College, Panelist (20 min)
Darian Lockett, Biola University, Panelist (20 min)
A. K. M. Adam, University of Glasgow, Panelist (20 min)
Matt Jackson-McCabe, Cleveland State University, Respondent (30 min)
Discussion (40 min)

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