The Bible in Its Traditions

James 1:12

Byz Nes V S TR

12  Blessed is the man who endures temptation; because when he is approved, he shall receive the crown of life which YHWH promised to those who love Him.

12a Future blessing promised for one who perseveres Jas 5:11; Mt 5:3-8; Rv 2:10 12b crown of life 1Cor 9:24-25; 2Tm 4:8

Suggestions for Reading

12 Transitional Verse The relationship of verse 12 to other passages in James is debated. It seems to be a transitional verse, linking the earlier discussion on external trials (Jas 1:2–4)—and more loosely, his discussion of single-minded prayer and the piety of the poor—with the clarification that internal trials (temptations) are not from God (Jas 1:13–15).

  • It serves naturally as a conclusion to the discussion on trials (peirasmoi), testing (dokimion), and perseverance (hupomonê) in Jas 1:2–4.
  • If one connects the "humble brother" of Jas 1:9 with the person who endures trials (Jas 1:2–4), then this verse can also be connected with the immediately preceding passage (Jas1:9–11). The "crown of life" in v. 12 explicates the "exaltation" of the humble brother (v. 9); its eschatological connotation suggests that vv. 10–11 discuss not only the fleeting nature of wealth in this life, but also refer to an eschatological judgment on the rich. This humble brother who endures trial is further contrasted with the double-minded person (Jas 1:5–8).
  • V. 12 is verbally connected with the following discussion (Jas 1:13–15) on the source of temptation (peirazô) (see Literary Devices Jas 1:12–15).

Text

Vocabulary

12b having been tested Result of testing See Vocabulary 1:3.

Literary Devices

2ff,12 perseverance Introducing the Theme Jas 1:2–4,12 introduces the theme of perseverance, which is further explicated in Jas 5:7–11: the exhortation to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord.

12b that the Lord promised Imagery of the Promise James clearly sees a functional equivalence between receiving "the crown of life" and inheriting the "kingdom."  The man who perseveres through trials, moreover, is equivalent to "the poor of the world." This latter connection supports the identification of the "humble brother" (Jas 1:9) with the one who endures trials (Jas 1:2–4). James' thought is echoed further (Literary Devices Jas2:5c).

 

Literary Genre

12 Blessed Macarism The saying is a beatitude (macarism), a device commonly used in both ancient Greco-Roman, Hebrew, and early Christian literature. Beatitudes are used frequently in Psalms (e.g., Ps 1:1), and are found frequently in the tradition of Jesus' sayings: the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:3–12) and Sermon on the Plain (Lk 6:20–23), and 13 times in the Ev. Thom..

If this verse is considered as a conclusion to the discussion of testing in Jas 1:2–4 (sections Jas 1:5–8 and Jas 1:9–11 taken as more loosely related material), this would fall in with James' technique of finishing a discussion with a general maxim; cf. Jas 2:13; 3:18; 4:17.

Reception

Liturgies

12–18 Use in Lectionary RML : Tuesday, Week 6, Year 2

Text

Textual Criticism

12c the Lord Specifying the Subject of “Promised” The original text (witnessed in the most important Greek MSS), likely did not specify the subject of the verb "promised. " To make the subject explicit, C and P (followed by Byz and TR) read "the Lord;" a few Greek miniscules (followed by V and S) read "God."

Context

Ancient Cultures

12b crown Symbolism of the Crown In Greco-Roman culture, the crown (stephanos) was commonly a wreath fashioned from twigs, grass, leaves, or flowers, and thus a sign of life and fertility. Crowning could have religious connotations: priests wore crowns while offering sacrifices (Xenophon Anab. 7.1.40) and participants in religious processions wore crowns (Livius Ab Urb. Cond. 27.37.13). Political leaders also wore crowns (Aeschines Tim. 19) as a sign of their authority, and could be associated with royalty (although the royal crown was more commonly called a "diadem" [diadêma]). At the Olympic games, victors were crowned with olive wreaths ( Pausanias Descr. 5.15.3). The wearing of a crown also connoted a general sense of joy and celebration: brides wore crowns, as did participants in banquets (Plato Symp. 212e). See also Biblical Intertextuality 1:12b and Peritestamental Literature 1:12b.

Peritestamental Literature

12b crown Crown as Eschatological Reward for Endurance

  • In Second Temple apocalyptic literature, the "crown of glory" is an eschatological reward: Mart. Ascen. Isa. 11.40;  1QS 4.7;  2 Bar.15:8: "a crown with great glory"; 4 Esd. 2:43–46).
  • 4 Macc. 17:11, alluding to an athletic crown as a prize (Ancient Cultures 1:12b) for the Maccabean martyrs, parallels James' teaching closely: "Truly divine was the contest in which they were engaged. On that day virtue was the umpire and the test to which they were put (dokimazo) was a test of endurance (hupomonê). The prize for victory was incorruption in long-lasting life."
  • See also 4 Macc. 17:15: "Piety won the victory and crowned (stephanoô) her own contestants" (OTP 2:562).  
  • See also 2 Bar. 52:5–7: "Enjoy yourselves in the suffering which you suffer now…Prepare your souls for that which is kept for you, and make ready your souls for the reward which is preserved for you" (OTP 2:639).

Biblical Intertextuality

12b crown Crown as a Symbol for Eternal Reward The NT regularly uses the crown or wreath (stephanos; Ancient Cultures 1:12b) to symbolize eternal life as a reward for a life well and faithfully lived. Paul (1Cor 9:24–25) compares the perishable crown for which athletes in a race strive with the imperishabe crown for which believers strive; cf. 2Tm 4:8: "the crown of uprightness which the Lord, the upright judge, will give to me on that Day"; Rv 2:10: "the crown of life"; 1Pt 5:4: "the crown of glory." The image appears already in Ws 5:15–16; cf. G-Zec 6:14.

Reception

Liturgies

1–12 Use in Lectionaries — Calendar The beginning of the letter of James is often read on the feast day of James, brother of the Lord:

  • BL: October 23.
  • Georgian church: December 28.

Christian Tradition

1–12 Divisio Textus

See also →James: Medieval Divisio Textus.

Visual Arts

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 Eusebius of Cesarea Hist. eccl. 23 and Jerome Vir. ill. 2, who in turn draw on accounts from Clement of Alexandria and Hegesipus. See also →James: Introduction

Several prominent features of these portrayals may be noted:

  • Following the tradition that he was the first bishop of Jerusalem, James is often portrayed anachronistically in bishop's vestments.
  • James is often portrayed holding a fuller's club, alluding to the tradition that James was beaten to death with a such a club. Variations show him holding different types of clubs. Another related tradition shows James holding a bow such as one used by hat-makers of the Middle Ages.
  • James bears a striking physical resemblance to his brother Jesus.
  • One artistic tradition, based on accounts found in the preface to the Gloss. Ord. and de Voragine Leg. aur., portrays the infant James as part of a large extended family. According to this legend, St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, had three children named Mary with three different husbands. James and his brothers Joses (Joseph), Simon, and Jude (cf. Mk 6:3) are the sons of Mary (daughter of Anne and Cleophas; cf. Jn 19:25) and Alphaeus (cf. Mk 3:18). James and his brothers are thus cousins of Jesus (son of Mary, daughter of Anne and Joachim) and of St. John the Evangelist and James the Greater (sons of Mary, daughter of Anne and Salomas).

The following images are noteworthy:

  • A painting of James in the Armenian Sts. James Cathedral, Jerusalem: James is dressed in episcopal robes, wears a miter and holds a crozier (Gowler 2014, 54).
  • Blessed James Apostle. In the Stav. Bib. (1093-97) illuminations of the apostle James are at the introduction to the Catholic epistles (f. 197 r→) and at the beginning of his epistle (f. 197 v→.). The apostle stands, holding a book.
  • Apostle James the Less, statue, south portal of Chartres Cathedral, early 13th century.

Anonymous, James Among Other Apostles (sculpture on limestone, early 13th c.),  South Portal, Chartres Cathedral, France

© D.R. Photo Mary Ann Sullivan→ 

James holds a club.

  • Leonardo da Vinci (1495-98), The Last Supper, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. 

Giampietrino (1495–1549), The Last Supper (oil on canvas, ca. 1520, after Leonardo da Vinci [1452–1519], The Last Supper [1495-1498]),  298 cm x 770 cm

Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhib. Magdalen College, Oxford

Public Domain © Wikicommons→ 

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. 

  • Lucas Cranach the Elder (1509), Infant Saint James among his relations, a triptych in the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Germany. The infant Jesus, his mother Mary, and Mary's mother St. Anne are portrayed in the center. To the right is St. Anne's other daughter Mary, her husband Zebedee, and sons John the Evangelist and James the Greater. To the left is another of St. Anne's daughters named Mary with her husband Alphaeus; their children James, Joses (Joseph), Simon, and Jude are in the left and center panels.

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), The Holy Kinship, (mixed media on lime, Wittenberg, 1509), Altarpiece, central panel: 100.4 × 121.1 cm; wings: 40 × 120 cm

Städel Museum — 1398, Frankfurt am Main

Public Domain © Wikicommons→

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 de Voragine Leg. aur. 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.

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.

  • Paolo Veronese (Caliari) James as Bishop (1500s). Burghley House Collection, Lincolnshire, UK. The Bridgeman Art Library. James with crozier and miter, holding a book.

Paolo Veronese Cagliari (1528-1888), Saint James, (oil on canvas, ca. 1578), 200 X 85 cm, One of the volets of the organ of the church of San Jacopo, Murano, Venice — the other is a portrait of St. Augustine.

Burghley House Collection, Lincolnshire, UK, © A Graduate of Pomona→

  • Saint James the Less, painting by El Greco (c. 1612), Museo del Greco, Toledo, Spain. 

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El Greco (Domenikos Theotokópoulos) 1541-1614, The Apostle James the Greater, (Oil on canvas, 1610-1614), 100 cm X 80 cm

 Museo de El Greco→ (Toledo, Spain), © Wikicommons, 

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

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Nicolò Bambini (1651-1736), San Giacomo Minore (Oil on canvas, 1722-1723), Communion of St James (Series of the Twelve Apostles), Presbytery: right wall, center, Saint Stae,Venezia, © Chorus Venezia→ 

The risen Jesus appears to James and breaks bread with him (based on an account recorded in Jerome Vir. ill. 2, said to be drawn from the Gospel according to the Hebrews).

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Angelo de' Rossi (1671 – 1715), Jacobus Minor (Sculpture on marble, 1710-1711), Gli Apostoli, (h: 424 cm), Nef, San Giovanni in Laterano, Roma, © Wikicommons

James holds a book and club.

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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902), James the Lesser, (Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, 1886-1894), 30.6 x 23.5 cm, Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.237, © Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008

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.

Eastern Orthodox traditions

  • James the Just, Russian icon, 16th century. Novgorod. James is depicted in episcopal robes and holds a book.

Anonymous, James the Just, (pigments on wood, mid. 16th c.), icon, Novgorod or Moskow, Novgorod

Public Domain © Wikicommons→,

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.

  • Martyrdom of James the Just. Illustration from the Menologion of Basil II. (PG 117:6-612). Late 10th, early 11th c. AD. Vatican Library. Vat.gr. 1613. Image 131.→  

For discussion of visual depictions, see Gowler 2014, 53-62; Bedford 1911.

Context

Biblical Intertextuality

12 Blessed is the man... Current Suffering and Future Glory The structure of James' macarism is similar to macarisms of Jesus: one who currently suffers trials will receive a heavenly reward:

  • Mt 5:11–12a: "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven" (=Lk 6:22–23); cf. Mt 10:22: "You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures (hupomenô) to the end will be saved."

  • Lk 6:20: "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours."

The NT often compares present suffering with future glory:

  • Rv 2:10: "Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
  •  Rom 8:18: "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us."

On may also find Old Testament parallels where those suffering are admonished to endure in light of an eschatological reward:

  • Dn 12:12 (Theodotion): "Happy is the one who perseveres" (Makarios ho hupomenôn); cf. G-Zec 6:14

Reception

Christian Tradition

12a perseveres through trials Various Interpretations

 Trials are a Sharing of Christ's Cross

  • In his quotation of Jas 5:12, the Pachomian abbot, in Horsiesios Test. 50, connects the "trials" with a Christian's duty to carry his cross and his call to "share Christ's suffering" (Rom 8:17; Veilleux 1982, 3.209; Boon 1932, 142).
  • So too, Thomas à Kempis Imit. Chr. 2.12.4 perhaps alludes to James, "Gaze upwards and downwards, look inside you and outside you and everywhere you will find the cross. If you desire internal peace and want to gain an everlasting crown, then you must everywhere exercise patient resignation (patientia; Tylenda 1998, 67; St. John 1902, 98).

James and the Lord's Prayer

The tradition often uses Jas 1:12 and Jas 1:2 to contrast James' positive view of "tempation" or "trial" (peirasmos) with negative view of temptation implied in the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "lead us not into temption" (Christian Tradition 1:2)

  •  Cassian Coll. 9.23.1–2 (recording the teaching of Abbot Isaac): "For if we pray not to be allowed to be tried, how will the strength of our steadfastness be tested (si enim oramus ne permittamur temptari, et unde erit in nobis virtus constantiae conprobanda), according to the words: 'Whoever has not been tried has not been proven' (Sir 34:11). And again: 'Blessed is the man who undergoes trial"? (Jas 1:12). Therefore the words, 'Subject us not to the trial,' do not mean: Do not allow us ever to be tried, but rather, Do not allow us to be overcome when we are tried (ne permittas nos in temptatione positos superari). For Job was tried, but was not subjected to the trial (temptatus est enim Job, sed non est inductus in temptationem).…Abraham was tried, and Joseph was tried, but neither of them was subjected to the trial, for neither of them consented to the one trying them" (sed neuter illorum inductus est in temptationem, quia nullus eorum consensum praebuit temptatori; Ramsey 1997, 345; Petschenig 1886, 271-72); similarly Cyril of Jerusalem Cat. 23.17 (Myst. 5.17), quoting Jas 1:2 (Reischl and Rupp 1967, 390–93); also Bar Kepha Exp. Myst. (83).
  •  Albert Sup. Matt. ad 6:13:  Albert, in scholastic fashion, asks “Whether God leads anyone into temptation?” and contrasts Jas 1:13: “God tempts no one” with Mt 6:13: “Lead us not into temptation.” Albert distinguishes: God often leads in temptation (in temptatione) as when he appeared with the three young men in the fiery furnace (Dn 3:49), but God never leads into temptation (in temptationem) in the sense of seducing one into evil (Schmidt 1987, 214). 

Proof that Post-baptismal Sin is Possible

 Jerome Adv. Jov. 2.3 takes this verse as a proof (against the position of his opponant Jovianus) that the baptized can be tempted "and fall of their own free choice" (propria corruere voluntate; NPNF2 6:389; PL 23:299). Jerome also mentions Jas 1:22–24 and Jas 2:10 as further proofs of the possiblity of sin after baptism.