Eight James Articles in Catholic Epistles & Apostolic Tradition

NiebuhrWallI just got my new copy of The Catholic Epistles & Apostolic Tradition, a volume edited by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert Wall that has come out of the SNTS Seminar on the Catholic Epistles in 2001-2006.

I’m pleased to see that it is dedicated to Professor Dr. Donald J. Verseput (1952-2004), the most prolific contributor of journal articles on James in the first few years of the new millennium. There is no doubt that his writings have had some significant influence on the New Perspective on James that we are now enjoying.

Of the 16 articles in the volume, I’m thrilled to see that 8 of them focus on James.

The dates in the following list are only found on the Contents page for this book on the Baylor University Press website. However, many of the titles in the book are slightly different than the titles found there. I’m guessing that means these are revised editions of articles originally delivered at SNTS meetings. If so, the dates below simply point us to the original papers.

One article that appeared on the Baylor page but is not found in the book…

C. C. Newman, “The Theology of the Apostles: The Convictional World Beneath the Catholic Epistles” (2003)

Here are the contents…

Part I
1. Robert W. Wall and Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr, “The SNTS Seminar on the Catholic Epistles”

Part II
Catholic Epistles as a Collection
2. Robert W. Wall, “A Unifying Theology of the Catholic Epistles: A Canonical Approach” (2003)

Part III
3. Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr, “James in the Minds of the Recipients: A Letter from Jerusalem” (2004)
4. Patrick Hartin, “James and the Jesus Tradition: Some Theological Reflections and Implications” (2001)
5. John S. Kloppenborg, “The Reception of the Jesus Tradition in James” (2003)
6. Matthias Konradt, “The Historical Context of the Letter of James in Light of its Traditio-Historical Relations with First Peter” (2001)
7. Robert W. Wall, “Acts and James” (2002)
8. Robert W. Wall, “The Priority of James” (2004)
9. John Painter, “James as the First Catholic Epistle” (2006)
10. David R. Nienhuis, “The Letter of James as a Canon-Conscious Pseudepigraph” (2006)

Part IV
Petrine Epistles
11. Reinhard Feldmeier, “Salvation and Anthropology in First Peter” (2001)
12. Lutz Doering, “First Peter as Early Christian Diaspora Letter” (2003)

Part V
Johannine Epistles
13. John Painter, “The Johannine Epistles as Catholic Epistles” (2002)

Part VI
14. Jörg Frey, “The Epistle of Jude between Judaism and Hellenism” (2002)
15. Scott Hafemann, “Salvation in Jude 5 and the Argument of 2 Peter 1:3-11” (2005)

Part VII
16. Ernst Baasland, “A Prolegomenon to a History of the ‘Postapostolic Era’ (Early Christianity 70-150 CE)” (2005)

James Papers Coming to SBL – Twelve!

sblLogoWow! I count twelve (12) papers on James at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in New Orleans coming up November 21 – 24. The presentation of these twelve papers is dispersed among eight (8) different section units. How appropriate since James was addressed to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, and one proposal for the letter’s organization divides it into twelve sections. Well, I’m sure that has nothing to do with it.

Below is a listing of the papers with their abstracts organized under their respective program units. Oh, how I wish I could go!

Jewish Christianity / Christian Judaism
Joint Session With: Jewish Christianity / Christian Judaism, Didache in Context
11/21/2009,  9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Clayton N. Jefford, Saint Meinrad School of Theology, Presiding

Patrick J. Hartin, Gonzaga University
“Ethos and Ethics of the Didache: Affinity with Other Early Jesus Groups Within Judaism?”
The ethos of a people or a community points to its very identity and vision: this is who we are and this is what distinguishes us from other groups or communities. The ethos gives rise to the ethics of the community: those rules, values, guidelines to which members of the community adhere and which express their identity. This paper analyzes the Didache with a view to disclosing the ethos and identity of the community which it reflects. This analysis also leads to an examination of the ethical admonitions occurring as boundary markers that give expression to the identity of the community of the Didache. The ethical admonitions of the Didache all occur in a theological rather than Christological context. Among the ethical admonitions, attention is given to the Jewish Two Ways of Did 3:1-6; the Double Command of Love; and concepts such as “being perfect” (teleios) and “being double-minded” (dipsychein). The second part of this paper examines the ethos, identity and similar ethical admonitions within three other documents from Jesus groups within Judaism, namely the Letter of James, the Sermon on the Mount and the Two Ways teaching found in the Letter of Barnabas. Based on this investigation, possible affinities among these documents will emerge.

11/21/2009,  4:00 PM to 6:30 PM,
Robert L. Webb, McMaster University, Presiding
Theme: James and Q

Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh
“Q and James: A Source Critical Conundrum”
This paper provides an overview of the major theories that seek to account for the similar traditions that exist in Q and James. First, the nature of the different types of parallels will be analyzed. Secondly, the major critical suggestions which account for these parallels will be assessed. Thirdly, the paper will discuss the significance of the existence of such parallel sources of tradition for accessing material which may be traced back to the historical Jesus.

Patrick J. Hartin, Gonzaga University
“Wholeness in James and the Q Source”
The sayings traditions of Jesus of Nazareth lie at the foundation of the moral exhortations in both the Letter of James are the Q Source. An examination of both James and Q reveals that they hold some of the moral exhortations in common. The purpose of this paper will be to examine these common links with the Jesus tradition by focusing on their vision of God and its consequence for action. This study demonstrates that faith in action captures the vision of James and the Q source. James’s vision embraced an understanding of works that occurred in the context of one’s whole life of faith (Jas 1:14) as does the Q Source (Q 6:46-49). Through an examination of concrete texts this study will further show that the traditions of Jesus that James and Q transmit are focused on the Israelite value of wholeness. At the same time a social-scientific examination of the value of wholeness will demonstrate how this value of wholeness is reflected equally in the traditions of James and Q. Patterns of all-or-nothing (characteristic of the Israelite value of wholeness) are common to James and Q. The value of wholeness is what links together the ethical traditions of Jesus in James and Q. Among some of the examples: God demands total allegiance; people cannot serve both God and mammon (Q 16:13). Friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jas 4:4); the need to keep the whole Law (Q 16:17 and Jas 2:10), etc. Through this analysis of the moral exhortations in James and Q, this paper will illustrate that the Q tradition as it developed further in the Sermon on the Mount is also reflected in the Jesus tradition at the heart of James’s ethical teaching. The common links in the traditions between James and Q are explained from the fact that James is aware of the Jesus tradition as it is being handed on within the Q community and its developing tradition as seen in the Q Sermon on the Mount.

Wesley Hiram Wachob, First United Methodist Church, Pensacola, Florida
“The Kingdom is Promised to the Poor”
The Epistle of James is an instance of written rhetorical discourse which appropriates a tradition of Jesus’ sayings in an effort to modify the social thought and behavior of its addressees. The focus of this essay is James 2:5, an allusion to a saying of Jesus that is performed in four other early texts: QMatt 5:3; QLuke 6:20b; Gos. Thom. 54; and Pol. Phil. 2:3. I should like to explore the links between these five performances of a Jesus-chreia from a socio-rhetorical perspective: treating of their form, reasoning, focus, and their rhetorical and theological functions.

John S. Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, will respond to the above three papers

Greek Bible
Joint Session With: Greek Bible, International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies
11/22/2009,  9:00 AM to 11:30 AM,
Cameron Boyd-Taylor, University of Cambridge, Presiding
Theme: Greek Minor Prophets

Karen H. Jobes, Wheaton College
“The Minor Prophets in James”
The writers of the New Testament certainly knew and were influenced by the Twelve. But where verbal parallels with the text of the Twelve are too short clearly to be quotations, it is difficult to determine if the parallel is truly a literary allusion or simply the common vocabulary of a shared tradition. Focusing on allusions to the Minor Prophets in the book of James, this paper will explore methodology involved in an attempt to demonstrate reference to the Greek text of the Twelve in this epistle.

Letters of James, Peter, and Jude
11/22/2009,  9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Peter H. Davids, St. Stephen’s University, Presiding

Jason Coker, Drew University
“(Sub)alternative: The Subaltern Identities of James and Paul in the Roman Empire”
In the field of Subaltern Studies, scholars attempt to construct a history from below that emphasizes the most marginalized people in a society. Gayatri Spivak is famous for problematizing the marginalized by showing how hierarchical structures exist within oppressed societies, i.e. the oppressed within the oppressed. Using this framework, I will read James and Paul as competing subaltern identities within the dominant Roman Empire. Each provides a “subalternative” identity within the marginalized early Jewishness of the first century. In an attempt to construct an identity in relation to the Roman Empire, both James and Paul negotiate cultural border lines. James argues for a more conservative, nativist position while Paul radicalizes and/or hybridizes Jewish identity. In this way, they offer (sub)alternative identities for their constituencies. This process of negotiation also reveals the palimpsest that was Jewishness and Christianness in the first century.

Jason Whitlark, Baylor University
“Emphutos Logos: A New Covenant Motif in the Letter of James”
Studies on the “implanted word” in the letter of James fall into two trajectories. One proposed trajectory sets this term against the background of Stoic philosophy as a reference to natural reason common to all humans. The other sets this term against the background of the Christian proclamation of the gospel internalized by the Christian community. The argument in this paper attempts to further the latter trajectory by arguing that the “implanted word” motif is an enablement motif grounded in new covenant thinking. To this end, this paper will argue that the Letter of James assumes a pessimistic anthropology and that emphutos in the pagan, Jewish, and, espeicially, the early Christian contexts was understood as an enablement motif for the moral and religious life.

Mariam J. Kamell, University of St. Andrews-Scotland
“Endurance unto Salvation: The Witness of 1 Peter and James”
Both First Peter and James speak about the link between endurance and salvation, and yet in deference to the Pauline epistles, rarely is this mentioned except as an aside in most theological writings. Their witness is seen as “secondary” in most systematic work. These two epistles, however, have a remarkable amount of overlap, even simply in their first chapters, regarding the theme of endurance and its central importance for salvation. In 1 Peter 1:6-9, the author concedes that his audience will “have to suffer grief” but assures them that they “are receiving the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.” Trials, he states, have come so that faith might be “proved.” James encourages joy in the “testing” of faith that believers might become “mature and complete” (1:3-5). Those who persevere will “receive the crown which is life” (1:12). For both authors the reality of a “variety of trials” (1 Pet 1:6; Jas 1:2) leads to calls for endurance for salvation. Endurance relates to “holding fast” to the faith despite trials but also indicates obedience in holiness. 1 Peter 1:14-15 warns his readers not to conform to their sinful “desires” but rather reminds them of God’s holiness and subsequent commands to “be holy.” He describes their redemption (1:17-21) and from this reminds them of the reality of their purification (1:22) and calls them to restore their purity (2:1). Likewise James warns his audience against their desires as the path to death. Instead, he reminds them again of their redemption (1:17-18) as a result of which they should purify themselves (1:21) and seek to worship God in purity and service (1:27). The sheer congruence of vocabulary and ideas within the introductory chapter of each text validates a comparison of their theologies of endurance for salvation.

Redescribing Early Christianity
11/22/2009,  9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Barry Crawford, Washburn University of Topeka, Presiding
Theme: Comparison and Redescription in the Study of Early Christianity

Stephen Young, Brown University
“A Kind of Judean Specialist: Theorizing a Redescription of the Religiosity of James the Brother of Jesus”
We often cripple our ability to deploy sources for studying the religiosity of James the brother of Jesus through problematic assumptions about the proper goals of study. These assumptions often coincide with internal Christian categories and the types of intellectualist discursive-action concerns dominating the fields of studying early Christianity: i.e., religiosity ultimately concerns doctrines/beliefs and “actions” secondarily flowing from them; intellectualist manipulations of texts and doctrines constitute the essence of religiosity, etc. I propose some social-theoretical and historical spadework to make possible a redescription of the religiosity of James. First, I commence with the above concerns: (A) bypassing internal Christian categories we often anachronistically retroject back onto early “Christian” figures and (B) problematizing our implicit theoretical approaches that prioritize quests for doctrines, beliefs, intellectualist manipulations of texts and doctrines, and other such discursively-oriented practices of specialist cultural producers. Second, I pursue plausible cross-cultural categories to orient investigations of James and other Jerusalem Judeans of the 1st century CE. I introduce a typology relevant for categorizing kinds of Judean religiosity in Jerusalem, particularly focusing on what might be termed “everyday kinship-sacrificial religiosity.” As part of this I explore a typology of the kinds of specialists and leaders within these varying types of Judean religiosity. Third, I attempt a consciously theorized socially and historically plausible redescription of James’ religiosity as a form of Jerusalem Judean religiosity. Here I investigate my intuition of James as a specialist of some sort, but operating in relation to a kind of everyday Judean kinship-sacrificial religiosity. While the entire paper remains necessarily introductory, it hopefully demonstrates the productivity of such a consciously re-theorized methodology. This project strives to work out (not simply to “apply”) social theory, especially practice theories similar to those of Pierre Bourdieu and Theodore Schatzki, through redescription of early “Christian” sites.

Homiletics and Biblical Studies
11/22/2009,  4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, Bethany Theological Seminary, Presiding

Do-Kyun Lim, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Rhetoric Sensitive Sermon in the Epistle of James: Revitalizing Biblical Rhetorical Effects from James’ Protreptic Epistle”
Biblical sermons have tended to deliver only propositional ideas or to explain the movement or structure of the text. Scripture, however, contains not only its message but also unique effects for communication. The science of rhetoric might aid contemporary preachers to discern persuasive elements in the biblical texts and, consequently, to revitalize the intended biblical effects in contemporary sermons. Belonging to the protreptic genre, the epistle of James comprises copious rhetorical devices. This presentation will spell out the protreptic features of the epistle of James and its rhetorical devices (i.e., rhetorical questions, directive expressions, repetition, diatribe, metaphor, imperatives, poetic expressions, biblical figures, and personal experiences), and then attempt to reanimate biblical rhetorical impacts in the construction of contemporary biblical sermons.

Construction of Christian Identities
11/23/2009,  9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Adriana Destro, University of Bologna, Presiding
Theme: Rituals, Texts, Individuals and Associations: Competing Ways to Construct Identities? (2)

Kathryn J. Smith, Azusa Pacific University
Family Values: Priestly Constructions of Social Identity in the Jerusalem Assembly”
This paper will address two thorny questions regarding the development of the earliest Jesus groups: 1) what ideological shift occurred to cause the group described in Acts to move its geographic center from the Galilee to Jerusalem? and, 2) what caused this Jerusalem-based Jesus group to radically re-signify its valuation of kinship, a re-signification that resulted in the family of Jesus enjoying an unanticipated surge in status and authority which the author of Luke/Acts acknowledges but never explains? Both of the above changes reflect significant shifts in the group’s ideology and social identity. Both point to contested social space between that presented in Mark and Q, on the one hand, and that indicated in the later layers of Matthew and Luke and in Acts, on the other. Both repeatedly point us to the same two individuals: Mariam, the mother of Jesus, and her son, James. There is sound evidence for an ideological shift in that these changes coincide with evidence for a new set of values, specifically those associated with priestly interests. These values show up in those later literary layers and in Acts, values that the family of Jesus apparently was successful in instituting within the Jerusalem group. They appear in the development of a new veneration for the Temple as symbol, in the use of new literary genres within the texts, genres strongly associated with the tradition of the priests, and in the introduction of newly prominent individuals, characters, and ritual identities. This influence is much more substantial than previously acknowledged and is also deeply significant for gender constructions in that it points to a formative and foundational role for Mariam herself. It helps account for some of the puzzling shifts in the synoptic gospels and contributes to our mapping of the social identities of early Jesus groups.

Mapping Memory: Tradition, Texts, and Identity
11/23/2009,  9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Theme: Memory, Manuscript, and Oral Composition

David Rhoads, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
“Performance Memory Aids in the Letter of James”
This keynote paper will explore structural elements of the NT book of James that reflect an oral compositional environment and that assist in live performances of the text. Based on my experience of performing the Letter of James and various studies now available in ancient mnemotechnics, I will identify discourse patterns within James as a means to illustrate features that facilitate memorization and performance of this letter.

Week of New James Titles

This week is a great week for new titles on the Letter of James. According to Amazon.com, the following titles became available this week (perhaps some were available sooner, I don’t know)…

Batten_Alicia - What are they saying about the letter of JamesBatten, Alicia J. 2009. What Are They Saying About the Letter of James? New York: Paulist Press. (available since Nov 2, 2009)

From the publisher: “This book surveys some of the scholarship on the letter of James from the past 30 years, covering questions of authorship and audience, structure and rhetoric, themes, and relationship to some of the sayings attributed to Jesus.”

McCartney_2009 - JamesMcCartney, Dan. 2009. James. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. (available since Nov 1, 2009)

From the publisher: “In this volume an expert in the field of Biblical Interpretation, Dan McCartney provides a detailed and thorough exegesis of the book of James through direct interaction with the Greek text. Working from the text, McCartney also provides a thorough sociological, historical, and theological treatment of James with rigorous academic sophistication. Nevertheless, the content of this commentary remains highly accessible and will prove to be an excellent tool for students, pastors, and scholars. This volume is sure to take its place next to the other great commentaries in the Baker Exegetical series, as well as alongside every great commentary on James.”

Niebuhr & Wall_2009 - Catholic Epistles & Apostolic TraditionNiebuhr, Karl-Wilhelm and Robert Wall, editors. 2009. Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. (available since Nov 1, 2009)

From the publisher: “Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition asks two questions: Can the Catholic Epistles from James to Jude be fruitfully examined in relation to each other, without contrasting them with the Pauline Epistles? And, if so, will we learn something new about them and early Christianity? The essayists here answer “yes” and “yes,” offering provocative perspectives on James, the Johannine epistles, the Petrine epistles, and Jude.

Additional contributors are Ernst Baasland (Church of Norway), Lutz Doering (University of London—King’s College), Reinhard Felmeier (University of Göttingen), Jörg Frey (University of Munich), Scott J. Hafemann (Gordon-Conwell Seminary), Patrick J. Hartin (Gonzaga University), John S. Kloppenborg (University of Toronto), Matthias Konradt (University of Berne), David R. Nienhuis (Seattle Pacific University), and John Painter (Charles Sturt University).”

Papers on James at SBL

Wow, I thought the Society of Biblical Literature section on “Letters of James, Peter, and Jude” was supposed to focus on 1 Peter this year, and it does. But it turns out that there is a general session concerning any of these letters, so there are several papers included on James in this and other sections.

In the “Letters of James, Peter, and Jude” section,

  • Erin Vearncombe (University of Toronto) will presenting on “Ill-Skilled Postmen and the Addressees of James: The Socio-rhetorical Function of the Prescript of James“…

The prescript of James serves an important socio-rhetorical function which provides the key to understanding the purpose of the paraenetic letter as a whole, establishing a guide for exegesis. James 1:1 is the only epistolary element in the document, yet the identification of the (fictive) sender James and the (fictive) audience of the twelve tribes is essential to the interpretation of the text. The address of James “to the twelve tribes in the Diaspora,” along with the pseudepigraphical identification of the author, functions to signal the rhetorical strategy of the letter, acting as a guide for the interpretation of the social world which is constructed in the document. A discussion of previous approaches to the prescript and epistolary status of James, including the characterization of James as a Judean Diaspora letter, an analysis of the pseudepigraphical character of James and the construction of ethos in the letter and a comparison of the text to other Greco-Roman paraenetic letters in terms of the primary importance of status association and negotiation in paraenesis will help to shed light on this socio-rhetorical functioning of the prescript.

  • Christopher N. Chandler (University of St. Andrews-Scotland) will be presenting on “Jesus and James on Justice in the Courts: A Reconsideration of the Ward/Allison Proposal“…

When interpreters of James come to the discussion about the seating of the rich and the poor in 2:1-13, they are faced with two interpretive options. The majority of recent interpreters, based upon parallel passages in later church orders, opt to understand this to be about seating arrangements in an early Christian worship service. A minority position, which is often noted but rarely taken seriously, is that 2:1-13 depicts an ancient judicial setting between two litigants. This latter position was argued for by R. B. Ward in his 1966 dissertation and a subsequent article in 1969. D. C. Allison demonstrated convincingly in 2000 that Ward’s position, far from being new, was a viable interpretive option among a majority of scholars prior to the 20th century. This paper seeks to build upon the ‘Ward/Allison’ thesis that 2:1-13 depicts an ancient litigious scene in two ways: 1) by demonstrating a significant but rarely noticed parallel between James 2:1-13 and Matthew 7:1-5, and 2) by uncovering the exegetical underpinnings of both of these passages in their halakhic, midrashic engagement with Lev 19:15-18—a section of laws governing just legal judging. Some of the theological implications such an interpretive shift of 2:1-13 might have upon the discussion of faith and works in James 2:14-26 may also be explored.

Chris is a great guy and met me at the SBL international conference in Edinburgh when I visited there in 2006. He gave me some good insights into PhD programs in Scotland and living in St Andrews with a family. Wish I could be there to hear your paper in person, Chris!

In a joint session between the “Letters of James, Peter, and Jude” section and the “Philo of Alexandria” section

  • John S. Kloppenborg (University of Toronto) will be presenting on “Stoic Psychagogy and the Letter of James“…

Interpreters have occasionally noted the coincidence between James’ vocabulary and technical terms of Stoicism, usually dismissing them as coincidental. This paper argues that in significant ways, James shares with Stoicism notions of care of the soul, control of the epithymiai, and the role of rational persuasion in the guidance of the soul.

  • Luiz Felipe Ribeiro (University of Toronto) will present on “Self-Mastery, Apatheia, Metriopatheia, and Moral Theory in the Epistle of James“…

The reading of the Stoics’ influence on James received little support and only very recently got a comprehensive treatment in Matt A. Jackson-McCabe’s “Logos and Law in the Letter of James: the Law of Nature, the Law of Moses and the Law of Freedom.” Before “Logos and Law in the Letter of James,” Jackson-McCabe contends, two lonely treatments of the Epistle allowed for a straight connection between James and Stoic Philosophy. Arnold Meyer in 1930, and M.-E. Boismard in 1957, independently argued that implanted logon (Jas 1,21) and the Perfect Law of Freedom (Jas 1,25) were drawn by the author of the Epistle from a Greek environment, particularly from Stoicism. According to Jackson-McCabe, James’ use of Implanted Logos derived from the early Stoa understanding of Émphutoi Prolepseis (Implanted Preconceptions). This paper proposes to add to Jackson-McCabe’s thesis of Stoic influences in James’ psychology and moral theory. It argues that the pseudonym Yakob might be read in light of the Jewish Hellenistic reception of Stoicism of the idea of the Stoic sage who achieves apatheia, or of the sage who is striving to control his passions through moderation (metriopatheia). This conflation of the Jewish Patriarch and Stoic sage can be seen in the figure of Joseph in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs and in Abraham, Isaac and Yakob in Philo of Alexandria. The Epistle of James is seen deriving its own ideas about the sage from the Jewish Hellenistic reception of Stoicism and the tradition of the haploûs sophos, the single-minded sage, the man who is the embodiment of simplicity, showing no sign of duplicity, listening and practicing the Logos (Jas 1, 33-35) [sic!].

In the “New Testament Textual Criticism” section,

  • Michael Theophilos (University of Oxford) will present on “A New Fragment of James from Oxyrhynchus.” See my previous post for abstract. This paper is listed for the morning of 22 November and the afternoon of 23 November. Does this merely reflect the preliminary nature of the online program book? Or is this two parts of the same paper? Who knows?