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18 Exercising His will He begat us by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
18 For by his own will he produced us through the Word of truth, so that we might be a kind of beginning among his creatures.
18 It is he, who begot us of his own will with the word of truth, that we should be the firstfruits of his creatures.
19 So then, my beloved brothers, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
19 Ye know [this], my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath
19 You know this, my most beloved brothers. So let every man be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to anger.
20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
21 Therefore laying aside all filthiness and abundance of evil, in meekness receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
21 Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
21 Because of this, having cast away all uncleanness and an abundance of malice, receive with meekness the newly-grafted Word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But become doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
22 So be doers of the Word, and not listeners only, deceiving yourselves.
23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this [one] is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
23 For if anyone is a listener of the Word, but not also a doer, he is comparable to a man gazing into a mirror upon the face that he was born with;
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man who sees his face in a mirror;
24 for he observed himself and has gone away, and immediately forgot what sort of [man] he was.
24 and after considering himself, he went away and promptly forgot what he had seen.
24 For he sees himself and goes his way, and forgets how he looked.
25 But the [one] who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues [in it], and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one shall be blessed in what he does.
19c slow to speak Parallelism V adds the word autem ("however") after "slow" to parallel the autem of the previous phrase (19b).
19 Maxim The verse takes the form of a three part maxim (G= gnômê; L = sententia); parallels to it can be found in ancient Jewish wisdom literature, Christian literature, and Greco-Roman moral literature.
19a beloved brothers A More Gentle Appeal This is one of only three times (with Jas 1:16 and Jas 2:5) that James uses the intimate agapêtos to qualify his address to his "brothers" in the faith (Literary Devices 1:2). This together with his use of indirect third-person imperatives ("Let everyone"), instead of direct, second-person imperatives ("Do;" "Do not"), shows James wants to exhort his audience with a gentler tone.
20 righteousness Divine Standard of Justice The Greek dikaiosunê, taken from the root dikê, refers to the basic concept of justice. Here it refers to the divine standard of justice (Vocabulary 2:21a).
21b implanted word Stoic Philosophy: Innate Moral Concepts The Stoics taught that the faculty of reason (logos) is not fully developed in the human soul until later in life (see Prooem. 2; [→SVF 2.83]), but that already from the beginning certain preconceptions (prolêpsis) are innate in the soul, including our innate sense of right and wrong.
22–27 Use in Lectionary →RML (1570) : 5th Sunday after Easter
25b hearer of forgetfulness Genitive: Semiticism The use of a noun in the genitive is used as an adjective "forgetful hearer," which is not usual in Greek. It apparently imitates the construct chain in Hebrew.
25a perfect law of freedom Allusion in the Book of Common Prayer
21a put away Literal and Metaphorical Meanings: Allusion to Baptism? The literal meaning of the Greek apotithêmi is to take off one’s clothes (see → 4.78.4). Metaphorically it is often used in the NT to admonish believers to put off various kinds of ethical evil (see Hist.Rom 13:12; Col 3:8; 1Pt 2:1). This metaphorical sense may allude to the physical act of taking off one’s clothes during the baptismal ceremony (Literary Devices 1:21a).
21a all sordidness Specification as "Earwax"?
21b receive the implanted word The Word as the Gospel The NT often refers to receiving (dechomai) the word of God as a synonym for accepting the gospel message. Jesus' parable speaks of those who receive the word with joy (Lk 8:13); Samaria received the word of God (Acts 8:14); cf. Acts 11:1; 17:11; 1Thes 1:6; 2:13 (Christian Tradition 1:21b).
22–25 doers of the word Semiticism The phrase "doers of the word" (poiêtai logou) most likely has a Semitic background. The most obvious referent of this phrase in Greek would be to poets: "makers of words" (e.g., 1.11.2: poiêtai logou). It is thus most likely influenced by the corresponding Hebrew "to do the word" ( ‘śh dbr), which often has the sense of performing words such as commandments (e.g., Ps 148:8: "Lightning and hail, snow and thick clouds…that fulfills his command").
Since for James "word" is equivalent with law (cf. the parallel in Jas 4:11: poiêtês nomou), James is here likely imitating the Scripture passages that refer to the "doing of the law (Torah)" (Jewish Tradition 1:22).
24b what he was like Referent: Fallen or Renewed Human Nature? The Greek hopoios ên means literally "of what sort he was"; cf., 1Cor 3:13: "the fire will test what sort of work each has done" (NRSV).
Later Christian interpretation understands James to refer to human nature: either the original human nature created in God's image, fallen human nature, or human nature renewed by Christ (Christian Tradition 1:23-24).
25c that one will be blessed in his doing Echo The one who both hears and does the word and the Law is blessed, just as the one who perseveres through trials is blessed and will receive the crown of life (Jas 1:12). The blessing here doubtless also connotes an eschatological blessing—salvation in the Kingdom (Literary Genre 1:12).
19a Therefore, my beloved brothers Unclear Relationship with Previous Verse
The alternative readings are likely scribal attempts to avoid the ambiguous original reading iste (it is not obvious what the author expects his readers to know; Grammar 1:19a) and connect this verse more smoothly with the previous verse.
21b implanted Innate or Simply Firmly Established Qualities? The Greek emphutos literally means "implanted," and refers metaphorically to things innate or natural in humans. → 237d speaks of our innate desire for pleasure ( Phaedr.emphutos epithumia hêdonôn) in contrast to opinions that are acquired (epiktêtos doxa; 1913, 444–45).
The word is sometimes used in the sense of something firmly established, but not necessarily inborn or innate:
21c save your souls Eschatological Salvation
James uses the verb "to save" sôᵢzô in four other passages:
In some passages (Jas 2:14; 4:12; 5:15), James speaks of saving the person; in others (Jas 1:21; 5:20) of saving the soul. It is thus likely that James thinks of the soul (G= psuchê) not as an immaterial spirit apart from the body (James uses the term "spirit"—pneuma—for this: 2:26), but rather as a term for the whole of the human person, body and spirit (cf. Heb. nefeš): cf. 1Cor 15:45: "The first man, Adam, became a living soul," which is a quote of Gn 2:7 (wayᵉhî hā-’ādām, lᵉnefeš hayyâ = kai egeneto ho anthrôpos eis psuchên zôsan).
19b let everyone be quick Semiticism? The construction "let every man" (estô pas anthrôpos) is not a typical Greek expression. It may be a Semiticism; cf. the rabbinic yh’ kl ’ḥd (e.g., in →b. B. Meṣ. 42a).
21b receive Imperative Aorist The Greek dechomai means "to receive" (e.g., a gift), "to welcome a person" (cf. Lk 16:4), or "to receive a teaching" (e.g., Lk 8:13: "receive the word with joy"). The aorist aspectual form of the imperative suggests that the action take place once, completely. Thus it should be translated simply as "receive," and should not convey continuous duration (e.g., "be receptive to," "keep receiving," etc.). Nevertheless, the reception history of this passage shows that this continuous, durative interpratation of receiving the word was not necessarily excluded (not all languages have aspectual markers; Christian Tradition 1:21b). In this verse, then, the verb may be understood to denote:
21a all sordidness and abundance of wickedness Creating an Impression of Comprehensive Evil James uses two strong phrases to create an impression of the pervasive and comprehensive evil of the world:
18b first-fruits Cultic Purity Language James' language is full of allusions to Israel's worship and Israel's concept of purity. Here James calls church members, “a sort of first-fruits” (aparchê) of his creatures,” alluding to the first portion offered in a sacrifice. James employs purity language elsewhere:
Even the pervasive concept of "wholeness" (expressed especially with the word teleios: see Jas 1:4,17,25; 3:2; cognates and verbal expressions in Jas 1:15; 2:8,22; 5:11) is cultic, alluding to the requirement that a sacrifice should be whole (teleios; cf. Literary Devices 1:27; Ancient Cultures 1:18b).
18a word of truth Possible Referents of “the word of truth” The term "word of truth" (logos alêtheias) may refer to several concepts found in Scripture. Its meaning is closely connected with how the exegete understands the phrase: "he gives birth to us." Does the "us," refer to (1) all humanity, (2) Israel, or (3) Christians?
The three options as not necessarily mutually exclusive. In the Hellenistic Jewish-Christian context presupposed by the Letter of James, one could well understand the word (logos) as the rational power through which the cosmos was created and is upheld, the Torah as the written expression of that cosmic logos, and the Christian message as the Lord Jesus' interpretation of the Torah (Christian Tradition 1:18a).
19c slow to anger General Biblical and Jesus' Teaching on Anger
The wisdom tradition teaches the need to control anger:
G-Prv 16:32: “A man who is slow to anger (makrothumos) is better than the mighty; and he who controls his temper (ho kratôn orgês) better than one who captures a city.”
Prv 12:16: “Fools immediately show their anger.”
Prv 29:8: “Pestilent men set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath” (hoi sophoi apestrepsan orgên).
Sir 27:30: “Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, yet a sinner holds on to them.”
Several aspects may be noted in the NT:
It appears in NT vice lists: Col 3:8 and Eph 4:31 include both orgê and thumos in their lists. These lists parallel the Stoic view that sees anger (orgê) as a wholly negative vice. 1Tm 2:8 admonishes believers to be “without anger or argument” (dialogismos), suggesting the connection between uncontrolled anger and disputes in the community). See also Ancient Texts 1:19c.
Eph 4:26, however, suggests that anger is not sinful in itself, but only if it is uncontrolled: “Be angry but do not sin (orgizesthe kai mê hamartanete); do not let the sun set on your anger” (epi parorgismôᵢ humôn).
Anger, in the sense of punishing a wrongdoing, is only proper to God (“the wrath of God”); see Jn 3:36; Rom 1:18; Rom 5:9; 1Thes 1:10. Thus Rom 12:19, “Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,’” but cf. Rom 13:4: governing powers are “the servant of God to inflict wrath.”
Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount singles out anger as a serious sin: “whoever is angry (orgizomenos) with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ [i.e., rêqâ / rêq’ā – “fool, worthless person”] will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna” (Mt 5:22).
With James’ admonition to be slow to anger, he seems to accept the view that anger should be controlled as opposed to being completely eradicated.
18a Of his own will God’s Free Creation uses the same participle (the passive of boulomai) to express God's careful planning of his creation:
18a word The Role of God’s Logos in Creation, Especially of Humans
→ 6 teaches that God used his Migr.logos as an instrument (organon) to fashion the world ( 1932, 134–35).
The human mind is thus in contact with divine reason:
21a sordidness S's Use of Ritual Purity Language S translates "sordidness" with ṭnpwt’ ("uncleanness"). The word is also used at Dn 11:31 ("the abomination that makes desolate") and in several NT texts, e.g., Gal 5:19 and Eph 4:19, where it translates the Greek akatharsia ("impurity").
21b the implanted word The Word Implanted in Human Nature S adds "in our nature" (bkynn) after "implanted," supporting the interpretation that James here refers to a characteristic implanted in all human beings, rather than a special grace given to Christians (Christian Tradition 1:21b). S uses this same word in Jas 3:7: "Every kind (kyn’) of beast…nature (kyn’) of human beings."
18a by the word of truth Identify of the Word? The tradition offers several possibilities concerning the identify of “the word of truth.”
→Gloss. Ord. glosses the “word” with doctrina evangelii: the teaching of the Gospel (col. 1271);
→ “the Gospel” (598). Notes
Cornelius à Lapide lists several other interpretive options, including a sacramental sense: it refers to the “word” spoken in the sacraments (e.g., in baptism, “I baptize you,” in penance, “I absolve you,” or the words of consecration during Mass). This refers to Scholastic sacramental theology, wherein a specific verbal formula is necessary (along with proper matter and intention) to effect the sacrament.
Here is the moral sense:
→ ad loc. “The moral sense (moraliter) of the passage is that it teaches about the divine sonship in which Christians become heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, sharers of the divine nature. God is the father, the seed is prevenient grace, breathed upon through the passion and merits of Christ, the mother is our will, whose seed is the consent to the grace and vocation of God: the offspring is the new person (homo novus) living a life of grace” (20:70). Comm.
18a Of his own will He gave us birth God's Unmerited Election Commentators, both Catholic and Protestant, find here a reference to God's unmerited grace in salvation:
→ 16.4 connects the passage with the Christian's ability to call on God as Father. Serm. Cant.
18b first-fruits Identity of the “First-Fruits” The tradition offers two main options for the identity of the “first fruits.”
Several authors interpret “first fruits” as humanity; in particular, “first fruits” refers to humanity’s privileged place over the rest of creation.
Similarly: → 140.62. Ep.
In referencing this passage, the tradition is careful to distinguish the “giving birth” of Christians from God’s begetting of his Son: → 2.3.6 ( Cons. 1903, 87); → ad loc. ( Ep. cath. 1985, 17); → ad loc.; Catena→ ad loc. (col. 465); Comm. Ep. Cath. Jac.→ 2.1 ( Loc. Theo. 2008, 1:156).
→ 3.23.2 “There is this difference between an adopted son of God and the natural Son of God, that the latter is “begotten not made”; whereas the former is made (filius Dei naturalis est genitus non factus, filius autem adoptivus est factus), according to Jn. 1:12: “He gave them power to be made the sons of God.” Yet sometimes the adopted son is said to be begotten, by reason of the spiritual regeneration which is by grace, not by nature (spiritualem regenerationem, quae est gratuita); wherefore it is written (Jas 1:18): ‘Of His own will hath He begotten us by the word of truth’” (voluntarie genuit nos verbo veritatis; ST 1947, 4:2142).
19f quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger Drawing on the Greco-Roman Tradition Commentatators add similar quotations and examples from the Greco-Roman writers, showing their conviction that James' advice is not narrowly Jewish or Christian, but draws on a wider tradition.
19b quick to hear, slow to speak Interpretations of Listening and Speaking
The tradition often connects James' admonitions with advice for teachers, and especially for bishops in their role as teachers.
Augustine of Hippo preached a sermon on Jas 1:19,22, applying the admonition to himself and his fellow preachers. He admits that he himself prefers listening, because when he preaches he is in danger of self-conceit. Cf. his application of the passage in → 193:13: "For I prefer…to learn rather than to teach" ( Ep. 1923, 2: 286).
He further reflects on Mary of Bethany, who sat and listened to Jesus' words (Lk 10:38–42). Hearing the words of the Lord is beneficial in this world and will continue into eternity. See the similar application to his work as a preacher in → Prol. 2; Retract.→ 57.3. Tract Ev. Jo.
→ ad loc. gives the example of Thomas Aquinas, who listened attentively to his teacher Albert the Great and was so silent that he earned the nickname "the Dumb Ox" ( Comm.bos mutus). Albert defended him saying that "the dumb ox would soon send forth such bellowings that the whole world would hear them" (20:73).
21a all sordidness and abundance of wickedness Distinction: Inner and Outer Vices
Many interpreters see here James' admonition to prepare oneself to receive God's world:
Building on James' reference to the implanted word, many see here an agricultural image: the person must clear away the weeds of sin before the word can grow:
21b with gentleness A Virtue Opposing Anger
22–25 be doers of the word Theme of Living out Faith in Works This passage introduces James' characteristic focus on action and living out one's faith:
24a he observed …is gone…forgot: Gnomic Aorists The verbs are gnomic aorists: these state general truths or principles, often employed in making general comparisons. Although the aorist is often translated into English using the simple past tense, the aorist actually denotes aspect, namely a single completed action. More generally, it marks an action that lacks temporal duration—hence, it can denote something that is eternal and timeless. Thus it can be used to name states of affairs that are always generally true; in this case it is translated into English with the present tense (cf. Jas 1:11; → § 1931). 1920
22–25 doers of the word Rhetorical Jewel
James gives literary coherence to this section with the repetition of the key nouns akroatês ("hearer") and poiêtês ("doer"):
v 25c: Conclusion: the doer of works is blessed.
Cf. → 322.
25a perfect law The Divine Law Governing the Universe In Stoic philosophy (and the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition generally), that which is “perfect” is “complete” according to nature (secundum naturam; kata phusin). In this sense, “nature” is quite different from the wild, spontaneous, and anarchic view of nature that we have inherited from Romanticism. Nor is “nature” the mere aggregate of corporeal physical movement—as opposed to the realm of mind— as in much of western philosophy after Galileo. For a Platonist or Aristotelian, “nature” (phusis) is energized form (eidos) or form in the process of being actualized: in other words, it is a complex of matter joined with an intellgible structure (i.e., form) set in motion (i.e., experiencing change). In this sense, “nature” is inherently teleological and ordered; hence in ancient Greco-Roman thought, one can derive ethical predicates by appealing to “nature” in a way that is not possible in modern philosophy (cf. →). 1946
Here Seneca, though equivocating somewhat about the meaning of 'nature,' exemplifies this connection between form, nature, perfection, and reason:
23ff mirror Interpretations of the Mirror
As James moves from gazing into a mirror to speaking of looking into" the perfect law of liberty (Jas 1:25), the tradition naturally associates the mirror with the law and thus with Scripture (both Old and New Testaments).
One can draw several parallels between the description of the New Law in the CCC and James.
22 be doers of the word and not only hearers Admonition to Put the Church's Teaching Social Teaching into Practice
23 mirror Mirror as a Metaphor for Self-Reflection In Greco-Roman cultures, looking into a mirror was often understood as a metaphor for self-reflection. Although physical mirrors can lead to a vain obsession with one's beauty and appearance, gazing upon onself can also inspire self-awareness and virtuous action.
18b first fruits Literal and Metaphorical Meanings
18a gave birth to us Birth Imagery The Greek verb—apokueô—literally denotes the act of giving birth. In its metaphorical use, it is similar to the English "engender."
James' use of birth imagery contrasts strongly with his previous use of that imagery:
Having just described God as the Father of lights (Jas 1:17), James' use of a feminine methaphor is striking.
21c save your souls Eschatological Salvation James uses the verb sôᵢzô ("save") in four other passages:
In some passages (Jas 2:14; 4:12; 5:15), James speaks of saving the person; in others (Jas 1:21; 5:20) of saving the soul. It is thus likely that James thinks of the soul (G= psuchê) not as an immaterial spirit apart from the body, but rather as a term for the whole of the human person, body and spirit.
21c,5:20b soul Multivalent Term The Greek psuchê is a multivalent term.
James' understanding of psuchê is not philosophically precise. The parallelism of Jas 4:8 identifies the dipsuchos (literally "two-souled") person with the sinner; the opposite of the dipsuchos is the person with a purified heart. The soul here is understood as the seat of the thought and will, and thus, for James, essentially equivalent with the "heart" (G= kardia; cf. heart at Jas 1:26; 3:14; 5:5,8).
James' use of psuchê is likely similar to its use in the Gospel tradition: "For whoever wishes to save his life (psuchê) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it" (Mk 8:35). The soul here is considered as the whole life of the person, including both the earthly, bodily existence and the transcendent existence that survives bodily death. Cf. also the usage of its Hebrew analogue, nepeš, which rendered psuchê in G: e.g., 1Cor 15:45: "The first man, Adam, became a living soul," which is a quote of Gn 2:7 (wayᵉhî hā-’ādām, lᵉnefeš hayyâ = kai egeneto ho anthrôpos eis psuchên zôsan). This transcendent element is clear in a further Synoptic saying,"And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" (Mt 10:28).
Jesus' reference to destroying soul and body in Gehenna is thus equivalent to James' reference to death: a sinner who is turned away from the error of this way will save his soul from this eschatological death.
James also speaks of the "spirit" (pnuema = rûaḥ; see Vocabulary 2:26a). Here pneuma is clearly the "life-force" of the physical body. James speaks further of the "the spirit which [God] made to live in us" (Jas 4:5). The relationship between pneuma and psuchê for James is not clear.
18b first fruits Cultic Terminology In ancient Greek religion, "first fruits" (aparchê) is a technical term referring to the first part of a religious sacrifice or offering; it also refers to the first portion of anything that was held sacred or consecrated to the gods before the rest was put to secular use (see → 1.92, 4.71; see also Hist.Biblical Intertextuality 1:18a, Peritestamental Literature 1:18b).
18a word The Rich Philosophical Background of Logos Logos has a rich variety of meanings in ancient Greek philosophy, all occuring within the general semantic field of language and reason (→James: Philosophical Background of Logos ).
18–21 Drawing on a Common Christian Baptismal Exhortation?
Some scholars explain these parallels by suggesting that Peter and James draw on a common Christian teaching associated with the spiritual renewal of life at baptism. Other posit some literary relationship between Peter and James.
One should also note other NT uses of the verb "to put away" (apotithêmi) which may originally have been baptismal exhortations. All passages refer to "putting away" one's old sinful life; many specify sinful vices (e.g., anger, slanderous speech) that James also warns against. Several also parallel James' use of "all" and "every", emphasizing the exhortation to make a complete change of life.
21c able to save your souls Salvation of the Soul through the Logos
13–18 Divisio Textus
See further →James: Medieval Divisio Textus.
20 anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God Vice of Human Anger
"Righteousness" (G= dikaiosunê; L = justitia) is closely tied to the ability to make good judgments. Giving in to anger inhibits the ability to judge rightly:
A minority tradition refuses to make the distinction between justified and unjustified anger, and, agreeing with the Stoics (Ancient Texts 1:19c), argues that anger must be rooted out of a person's heart competely.
18–27 Exhortation to Doing the Word
23a hearer of the word Identity of Word and Law The second corrector of C, several minuscules, and lectionaries read "of the law" (nomou) instead of "of the word" (logou). The scribes correctly assume that James identifies the two terms (Jas 1:23–25: looking into the mirror of the word || looking into the perfect law of freedom).
22–25 that one will be blessed in his doing Rhetorical Elaboration of Jesus' Beatitude with an Example Jas 1:22–25 can be understood as a rhetorical elaboration of Jesus' saying, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe (phulassô) it" (Lk 11:28; cf. Lk 8:21) or the version in Mt 7:24 (cf. Lk 6:47), "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts (poieiô) on them…" Just as Matthew and Luke elaborate the saying with the parable of a house built on rock or sand (Mt 7:24–27; Lk 6:47–49) so too James elaborates the saying with his example (Greek: parabolê; Latin: similitudo) of the forgetful person who looks into a mirror. → ad 7:26 notes the similarity between James and Jesus' teaching ( Sup. Matt. 1987, 271).
23f mirror Philo on the Image of a Mirror Philo uses the image of a mirror to signify contemplation, either of scripture or of one's own self.
Philo compares the process of rationally (logikê psychê) discerning the inner, allegorical sense of Scripture with gazing into a mirror:
→ 96–98 and Migr.→ 2.136–39 refers to the tradition that women gave their mirrors to make the bronze basin in which the priests purified themselves. While purifying themselves, the priests should reflect, as in a mirror, on any sins they may have so they might be purified. Philo also parallels James' reference to remembering: the priest should remember that the basin is made from mirrors. Mos.
25a law of freedom Philo: the Torah Frees One from the Slavery to Passions Philo often makes the point that those who follow the Torah are actually free, in contrast to those who are enslaved by their passions.
Similarly, much of James' moral teaching focuses on the need to free oneself from the domination of passions such as anger and desire.
25a law Philo and the Natural Law of Reason Philo accepted the Stoic concept of a universal law that orders the universe and is innate in the human mind.
The Torah is a written expression of this eternal law of nature implanted in the soul:
23b the appearance of his birth : S his own face S lacks "of his origin."
23f the appearance of his birth What Is Reflected in the Mirror and then Forgotten? The tradition offers various suggestions as to what is reflected in the mirror, and then forgotten:
→specifies some of the lessons the Christian has forgotten ( Iac. Par. 1993, 145; 1997, 131).
21b,3:13b gentleness Virtue opposite to Anger; Trait of Socrates
19bc quick to hear …slow to anger: Controlling Speech and Anger The Mishnah has similar admonitions and teachings:
22 doers of the word and not only hearers Harmony of Words and Deeds is Wisdom For Seneca, coherence between one's words and deeds is a sign of wisdom:
25a law Greco-Roman Views on Law and Word James' identification of the implanted word (Jas 1:21) and the "perfect law of freedom" may well rely on Greco-Roman, especially Stoic, ideas.
The Stoics regularly define "law" (Greek: nomos; Latin: lex) as the standard for determining right and wrong.
The Stoics identified the "word" (logos)—the universal reason governing the universe—with law (nomos); see →James: Philosophical Background of Logos.
Right reason and law are also identified with God.
Elsewhere Greek thought assumes that the ultimate source of law is divine:
21b gentleness A Characteristic of God
25a perfect law Theme of Wholeness and Perfection James's use of the adjective "perfect" (teleios) recalls his theme of wholeness, integrity, perfection and completion (→James: Perfection / Wholeness in James ; Ancient Texts 1:4a; Ancient Texts 1:4b; Biblical Intertextuality 1:4b; Peritestamental Literature 1:4b; Christian Tradition 1:4a).
Here, James speaks of the perfection of the Torah through Jesus' interpretation: the Torah of the Kingdom. This law is perfected through love (cf. Jas 2:8).
18a Of his own will Willing in Greek Philosophy Although the verb boulomai is common; its use here may have a background in Greek philosophy.
The Stoics identified the cognate noun boulêsis as one of the three good emotional states (eupatheia) that are the opposite of the vices. According to → 7.116: Vit. Phil.
Under the heading of boulêsis, the Stoics grouped the following virtues. Each one promotes good relationships between humans, while the vice of epithumia leads to conflicts. Thus for → 7.116 these are: Vit. Phil.
James thus uses the verb boulomai to emphasize God's free choice to create (i.e., he did not create out of necessity; Peritestamental Literature 1:18a).
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.
19c slow to anger Differing Views on Anger Greco-Roman philosophical and ethical traditions were divided on the place of anger: for the Stoics and others such as Plutarch, it was a passion to be eradicated; Plato and Aristotle, by contrast, held that it was a important source of energy that one must harness and control.
The terms orgê and thumos are both regularly used for the vice of anger (e.g., in →). Cohib. Ira
For the Stoics, anger is wholly negative and must entirely uprooted from a man if he wishes to be wise.
Even Plutarch, a Platonist and critic of Stoicism, agreed with the Stoic position that there is no positive use for anger, and one should work to get rid of it altogether.
19bc quick to hear, slow to speak Topos Common in Wisdom Literature Parallels to James' thought abound in biblical wisdom literature.
21b,3:13b gentleness Moses, Sirach, Jesus, Christians
The wise lawgiver Moses is known as having been most gentle, meek, and humble (Vocabulary 3:13b):
Christians maintained this tradition of Moses' exceeding humility (e.g., → 82.3). Ep.
19c slow to anger Controlling One’s Tongue and Passions James' admonitions to control one's tongue and passions such as anger are frequent in Jewish Hellenistic writing:
Some Hellenistic Jewish authors favor the Aristotelian view that passions such as anger should be controlled by reason, not completely eradicated (Ancient Texts 1:19c).
23b the appearance of his birth Contextual Meaning of the Expression The word genesis, "birth," in the expression to prosôpon tês geneseôs autou can refer to a remote origin (cf. the name of the first book of the Bible), or to one's own birth (e.g., Mt 1:18: the birth, genesis, of Jesus Christ). See also Christian Tradition 1:23-24. Here the phrase here may refer to:
22–25 be doers of the word and not only hearers Echo in the Liturgy of St. James A priestly prayer in the Liturgy of St. James reflects this passage:
25a law of freedom Aquinas on the Law of Freedom Thomas understands James' "law of freedom" as the "new law" or "law of Christ."
Thomas thus speaks of
The new law (the law of Christ) is therefore called a "law of liberty" in two respects (→ST 1-2.108.1 ad 2):
25a law of freedom Stoicism: True freedom in Following the Divine Will (Law)
25a law of freedom James and Paul on Freedom and the Law
25a law of freedom The Mishnah associates the study of the Torah with freedom:
22 be doers of the word and not only hearers Various Interpretations
→ 9: In his sermon on Serm.Jas 1:22, Anglican bishop Lancelot Andrewes (one of the translators of the Authorized or King James Version) calls putting the word into action a "sacrament of godliness" (cf. V-1Tm 3:16: pietatis sacramentum). Further he says, "blessed are they who so incarnate the written word by doing it, as the blessed Virgin gave flesh to the eternal Word by bearing it" (5:196).
The tradition often criticizes Pharisees or Jews in general for hearing the word but failing to act on it.
25a perfect law of freedom Various Interpretations
The law of liberty is further characteristized as the "law of love":
→ ad loc. reflects on the different ways in which the law of freedom leads to greater freedom for the Christian: Comm.
William of Ockham refers to James' law of freedom in his effort to limit papal authority.
Marsilius of Padua, a contemporary of William of Ockham, was also involved in controversies over papal authority. Marsilius held that the Church should have no political and temporal authority, but should be subordinate to the State.