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1 James, a bondservant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
1 James, servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes of the dispersion, greetings.
1 JAMES, a servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered among the Gentiles, greeting.
1b Diaspora Diaspora as Suffering in Exile 1Pt 1:1 refers to "those living as sojourners (parepidêmoi) in the Dispersion (Diaspora),” thus linking the Diaspora closely with the suffering of people exiled from their true home.
Since, in the next verse, he refers to the “various trials" that his readers may be experiencing (Jas 1:2), James may well intend to connect the Diaspora with suffering.
1a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: Reference to Jesus as Divine? Grammatically, it is possible to take the phrase "of the Lord Jesus Christ" (kuriou Iêsou Christou) in apposition to “of God” (theou); the phrase would then be translated as, “James, servant of Jesus Christ, God and Lord.” → 4.3–8 understood it in this way ( Bios 1978, 44).
1 James Asserting the Apostolic Authoriship of James In the later Latin tradition, as witnessed, for example, in the →Gloss. Ord. and →C, the title of the letter refers to James as beatus Iacobus Apostolus to clarify the apostolic credentials of the author. → adds the word Post.apostolus to the text of 1:1.
1a of God (Gr) Attempt at Clarification Some minuscules (e.g., 429 614) add patros in order to clarify that the referent of theou is God the Father and not the Lord Jesus (Grammar 1:1a).
1a James The Hebrew “Jacob” Expressed in Greek Iakôbos is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Jacob (Ya‘ăqōb); thus for a Greek reader the name would evoke connotations of the great biblical patriarch.
The Hebrew name Ya‘ăqōb was rendered in Greek in two ways: (1) transliterated as Iakôb or (2) rendered in a more hellenized form as Iakôbos. In the NT, the OT patriarch's name is always rendered as Iakôb; this form is also used for Joseph's (husband of Jesus' mother Mary) father Jacob (Mt 1:15–16).
Iakôb is thus used for the ancestors of Jesus; the hellenized form Iakôbos is used for contemporaries and followers of Jesus. English translators have followed this distinction; rendering Ya‘ăqōb / Iakôb as "Jacob," and Iakôbos as "James." The English name "James" is derived from the Latin Jacomus, a variant of Jacobus (→, 11).
1a servant of God A Respected Title in Israel Doulos is the common term for a slave (in Hebrew ‘ebed).
The Israelites were douloi in Egypt (G-1Sm 2:27). But when the word is connected with God, it becomes a title of honor: the greatest leaders of Israel are called “servants of God,” such as Moses (Dt 34:5; Ps 105:26), David (2Sm 7:8; Ez 37:24), and the prophets (Jer 25:4; Am 3:7).
In the NT, Paul frequently refers to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1; cf. Jude 1). Occasionally, believers in general may also be called “servants of God” (1Cor 7:22; 1Pt 2:16).
James’ use of the term, writing as both leader of the church in Jerusalem (Literary Genre 1:1b) and an authoritative teacher (cf. Jas 3:1), places himself in the company of Israel’s other honored leaders.
1b twelve tribes Christians as Israel? Some Christian traditions identify the Christian community with phrases originally applied to the community of Israel (e.g., 1Pt 2:9–10: “a chosen race…a holy people"). Paul regularly identifies Christians with Israel: “we are the circumcision” (Phil 3:3); those who have faith in Jesus are children of Abraham and thus heirs of the promise to Abraham (Rom 4:16; Gal 3:7,29).
It is unclear, however, whether James has here in mind Paul’s theology (e.g., Gal 3:14) of including Gentiles (i.e., those who do not follow the Jewish law) within eschatological Israel. With his specific reference to the "twelve tribes" and his apparently unquestioned acceptance of the validity of the entire Jewish Law (cf. Jas 1:25; 2:8–12; 4:11–12), James seems to address specifically Jewish, or rather Jewish Christian, followers of the Lord Jesus.
1b twelve tribes in the Diaspora Connotations: Eschatological Reunion / Jews Outside the Homeland In the Second Temple period, the Diaspora had both important theological connotations and concrete historical references.
Theologically, the designation "twelve tribes who are in the Diaspora" evoked the belief that the tribes of Israel, who had been scattered among the Gentile nations, would be reunited in Jerusalem in the messianic age. See Dt 30:3; Jer 23:3; Ez 37:21; Sir 48:10; 2Mc 2:18. And see also in peritestamental literature: →Pss. Sol. 8:28; 11:2–3; 17:26–28; →2 Bar. 78:7; →Sib. Or. 2.170–73; →4 Esd. 13:39–50; →T. Ben. 9.2.
One variation of this common belief was that the tribes in their entirety would not be gathered, but rather the representative "remnant" of Israel that had remained faithful to the Lord (e.g., Jer 23:3, "remnant" = Greek: kataloipoi; Hebrew: š’ryt). At least some early Christian communities thought of themselves as this remnant (see Rom 11:5).
Though the term evoked the reunited Israel of the eschatological age, in James' time it also had a concrete reference to contemporary Jewish communities outside of the Palestinian homeland, especially the ten tribes which had comprised the Northern Kingdom of Israel before its conquest by Assyria in the 8th c. BC. Some Second Temple traditions locate the ten tribes "east the Euphrates" (see → 11.133; A.J.→2 Bar. 78:1).
With his frequent use of Jesus' teaching, it is likely that James is writing to Jewish Christians (i.e., Jews who who accept Jesus as the Messiah and follow the Torah as interpreted by Jesus), living outside of the Palestinian homeland, whom he understands as the faithful "remnant" of Israel.
1a servant An Honorable Title
Commentators note that the apostles thought it an honor to bear the humble title, "servant of Christ"
1a of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ Reference to Jesus’ Divinity Several authors see in this passage a direct or indirect reference to Christ's divinity:
1b twelve tribes in the Diaspora Identifying James’ Audience Accepting that the letter's author is James, brother of the Lord, the Christian tradition regularly identifies the letter's recipients as Jews or Jewish Christians. Reference is often made to Gal 2:9, where James, Cephas and John agree that Paul's apostolate is to the Gentiles, and theirs to the Jews (e.g., →, Ep. cath.→Gloss. Ord., →). Examples of more specific identifications: Comm. ep. cath.
1b Greetings An Apostolic Greeting?
1a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ Parallel in Hellenistic Mystery Religions In Hellenistic mystery religions, an initiate was known as the "servant" or "slave" of the deity:
1–12 Divisio Textus
See also →James: Medieval Divisio Textus.
1b Diaspora Technical Term, Connotations
1b Diaspora Authoritative Encyclical to the Diaspora The genre of the Letter of James is best understood within the Jewish tradition of authoritative letters writtten from Jerusalem to Jews in the Diaspora. Although James does not claim any specific status or office (e.g., apostle, elder), the very genre implies that he is an authoritative religious leader writing from Jerusalem to instruct Jews in the Diaspora (→James: Introduction §Literary Genre).
1a James "Liturgy of Saint James"
The ancient →Lit. Jas. is traditionally attributed to James, brother of the Lord. The Liturgy dates at the latest from the mid 5th-c., and is extant in a Greek and Syriac form.
1a James Authorship of James On traditional and contemporary discussion on the authorship of James see →James: Introduction.
1:1–5:20 James Depictions of the Author Depictions of James, the author of the epistle, in paintings, statues, manuscript illustrations, engravings, woodcuts, and embroidery on liturgical vestments are particularly prominent in the Middle Ages. A common consensus of the artists is that the author of the epistle is James the Just, leader of the Jerusalem church; he is typically further identified with James, son of Alphaeus, one of Jesus' Twelve (Mk 3:18), and "James the Less" (Mk 15:40). The iconography of James draws particularly on accounts of James recorded in → 23 and Hist. eccl.→ 2, who in turn draw on accounts from Clement of Alexandria and Hegesipus. See also Vir. ill.→James: Introduction.
Several prominent features of these portrayals may be noted:
The following images are noteworthy:
James holds a club.
James, who resembles his brother Jesus, is second from his left. This full-scale copy was the main source for the— unfortunate—twenty-year restoration of the original (1978–1998). It includes several lost details such as Christ's feet, the transparent glass decanters on the table, and the floral motifs of the tapestries that decorate the room's interior. It was first mentioned in 1626 by the author Bartolomeo Sanese as hanging in the Certosa di Pavia, a monastery near Pavia, Italy, but it is unlikely that it was intended for this location. At some point, the upper third of the picture was cut off, and the width was reduced. Giampietrino is thought to have worked closely with Leonardo when he was in Milan. A very fine, full-size copy of this painting, before it was cut down, is installed at Tongerlo Abbey in Westerlo, near Antwerp, Belgium.
The side and central panels describe a a great hall with blue grey walls and three-colored tiles. In the side panels are depicted the half sisters of Virgin Mary, called after their fathers Mary Cleophas (left) and Mary Salome (right) together with their husbands.
Left panel: St. Mary Cleophas and Alphaeus (with the features of Friedrich the Wise with their two sons, the Apostles St. James the Less (at her breast) and Joseph Justus, called St. Barnabas, as annunciator of the Gospel of Matthew depicted with a book.
Central panel: Joseph, who seems to seems to sleep, the Virgin, dressed in blue with yellow lining, Anna and the Christ Child on her knee, who is stretching out his hand towards an apple given to him by Virgin Mary. Anna's three husbands following → are shown in the background in the matroneum: on the left Joachim, who is attracted by the holy women in front of him and whose relation is also shown by the corresponding blue and yellow color of his dress, Cleophas (with the physiognomy and chain of Emperor Maximilian I and Salomas, with the physiognomy of Sixtus Oelhafen von Schöllenbach, secretary of Friedrich III, Maximilian I and Karl V), who are talking to each other. There is an architectural structure by a great stone bench in the foreground of the central panel with two marble columns on the sides, over which is strectched a cloth of gold. On the right column is a tablet with date and signature: [LVCAS CHRONVS FACIEBAT ANNO 1509. The parapet of the matroneum is decorated by a sculptured frieze with dancing putti holding six escutcheons with the six fields of Electorate of Saxony. In the hall are shown the 17 members of the Holy Kinship. In the central panel are shown two more children of Mary Cleophas and Alpheus, the Apostles Simon, patron saint of weavers, dyers, tanners and saddlers and Jude, who went on mission and suffered their martyrdom together and therefore are regularly depicted together. Leg. aur.
Right panel: St. Mary Salome and Zebedee (with the features of Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, and his brother Herzog Johann der Beständige). St. Mary Salome, dressed in gold with dark red lining, is combing her son Saint James the Greater and while Saint John the Evangelist is hiding in her dress.
James is shown holding a Bible, symbolizing his status as a scriptural writer, in one hand. James is depicted in the Mannerist style with elongated form and without any of the traditional iconographic symbols
The risen Jesus appears to James and breaks bread with him (based on an account recorded in → 2, said to be drawn from the Gospel according to the Hebrews). Vir. ill.
James holds a book and club.
James, resembling Jesus, prayers on his knees with outstretched arms. It perhaps reflects Hegesippus' statement that James spent so much time in prayer that his knees were as hard as a camel's.
The inscription bearing the name of the saint has disappeared, but the iconography—facial features and beard shape —suggest that the icon is of James. Byzantine art places him among the founding fathers of the Church. As the creator of the first liturgy containing memorial services and the author of the message, which speaks of the healing power of prayer (Jas 5:14-16), he was also worshipped in ancient times as a healer. In Novgorod, James is prayed for the end of the epidemics. In sacred iconography, the representations of James of Jerusalem alone are very rare. We know the icons of Novgorod in which he is represented with other saints: Nicholas the Thaumaturgist, James the brother of God, Ignatius the bearer of God, end of the 15th c.; James the brother of God, Cosmas and Damian, 2nd quarter of the 16th c. The icon comes from the best workshops in Moscow or Novgorod.
1 Standard Opening Address The letter’s opening is a standard Hellenistic epistolary greeting. Its address to the “twelve tribes in the Diaspora” places it in a distinctive Jewish genre: authoritative letters written from Jewish authorities to Diaspora Jews (Literary Genre 1:1b;→James: Introduction §Literary Genre).
The reference to the “twelve tribes in the Diaspora” raises several interpretive possibilities, both implicit and explicit. It likely denotes Jewish Christians living outside of the Jewish homeland and connotes a situation of suffering and exile, evoking at the same time an eschatological hope for the reunion of the dispersion (Vocabulary Jas1:1b; Peritestamental Literature Jas1:1b).
The author’s simple self-identification as “James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” has led some to question the author’s apostolic status (Christian Tradition Jas1:1b ; →James: Introduction); the later manuscript tradition shows a marked tendency to explicitly identify the author as an apostle (Textual Criticism Jas1:1; Comparison of Versions Jas1:1). In referring to himself as the “servant of the Lord,” the author simultaneously affirms a humble yet authoritative status (Biblical Intertextuality Jas1:1a; Christian Tradition Jas1:1a).
An influential tradition in visual arts identifies the author of the Letter as James of Jerusalem, brother of the Lord, who is further identified with “James, son of Alphaeus,” one of the Twelve, and with “James the Less” (cf. →The Brothers of Jesus; →The Jameses Near Jesus; →The Family of Jesus in the Primitive Church). A distinctive iconography grew up around this figure (Visual Arts Jas1:1–5:20).
1 (Gr) Later Clarifications of the Title The great uncial manuscripts of the 4th and 5th c. identify the letter simply as the “Letter of James”:
Later manuscripts, however, add qualifying adjectives: “catholic” to describe the letter, and “apostle” to further identify James. Thus the 9th-c. Codex P (025) reads, Iakôbou apostolou epistolê katholikê.
1a James Allusion to the Patriarch Jacob
An interlinear gloss in the →Gloss. Ord. to the name James/Jacob (Iacobus) reads, “supplantor of vices, or wrestler” (supplantator vitiorum, vel luctator).
Since James shares the patriarch Jacob’s name, it was commonly assumed that he shared the patriarch’s characteristics.
→ 1 “For he is named supplantor of passions as was that ancient Jacob or Oblias, that is, ‘protecting wall’ (periochê) and ‘the just one’” (dikaios). Bios
Here Ps.-Andrew alludes to traditions that attribute the nickname “James the Just” to Lord’s brother and author of the epistle (see → 2.1.2–5 and 2.23 and Hist. eccl.→ 2). See also Vir. ill.→James: Introduction.
→ prol. attributes the cardinal virtue of justice to the Letter of James: “Because he deals with the faith by which the sinner is justified and the just one lives (alluding to Comm. Iac.Rom 1:17 / Hb 2:4), it is right to attribute justice (iusticia) to him. This is also right due to the interpretation of his name. For the interpretation of ‘James’ is ‘supplantor’ or ‘wrestler’: the one who truly supplants vices (vicia) or wrestles against them turns away from evil and thus fulfills both parts of justice” (→, 82). 2013