The Bible in Its Traditions

James 1:21

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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.

21a gentleness Mt 11:29l Gal 5:12 putting away sordidness Rom 3:12; Col 3:8; 1Pt 2:1 21b receiving the implanted word Prv 4:10; Zep 3:7; Mk 4:3-20; Acts 8:14

Reception

Liturgies

17–27 Use in Lectionary RCL : Proper 17, Year B

17–21 Use in Lectionary RML (1570) : 4th Sunday after Easter

19–27 Use in Lectionary

Context

Ancient Texts

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 Aetius 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.

  •  Cicero Tusc. 3.2 "The seeds of virtue are inborn (semina innata virtutum) in our dispositions, and, if they were allowed to ripen, nature's own hand would lead us on to happiness of life" (King 1927, 226).
  • Epictetus Diatr. 2.11.3 "who has come into being without an innate concept (emphyton ennoian) of what is good (agathos) and evil (kakos), honourable and base…what we ought to do and what we ought not to do?" (Oldfather 1928, 1:276).
  • Epictetus Diatr. 1.22.9–10 "To be eduated (paideuesthai) involves learning how to apply these natural preconceptions (phusikê prolêpsis) to particular situations" (Oldfather 1928, 1:142–43).

Reception

Theology

21b gentleness One of the Fruits of the Spirit Catholic tradition, based on Gal 5:22–23, identifies gentleness (L = mansuetudo) as one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1832).

Text

Vocabulary

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 Herodotus Hist. 4.78.4). Metaphorically it is often used in the NT to admonish believers to put off various kinds of ethical evil (see 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"?

  • The Greek noun ruparia, a hapax legomenon in the Bible, literally means "dirt" or "filth" and was used metaphorically for moral uncleanness, especially greediness. Plutarch Adul. amic. 19 [Mor. 60E] parallels ruparia with mikrologia, "stinginess" or "pettiness" (Literary Devices 1:21a).
  • The specific meaning "earwax"  in Hippocrates Epid. 6.5.1, ôtos rupos, is also attested; with his emphasis on proper hearing (Jas 1:19–25), James may allude to this meaning.

Grammar

21b with gentleness An Ambiguous Modifier The adverbial phrase "with gentleness" (en prautêti) may modify either the expression "after you have put away" or the imperative "receive" (Literary Devices 1:21b; Biblical Intertextuality 1:21b).

Literary Devices

21b with gentleness Contrast James contrasts the virtue of gentleness (prautês) with the ungodly vice of anger (orgê) mentioned in Jas 1:20 (Ancient Texts 1:21b).

Context

Biblical Intertextuality

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).

Text

Vocabulary

21b implanted Innate or Simply Firmly Established Qualities? The Greek emphutos literally means "implanted," and refers metaphorically to things innate or natural in humans. Plato Phaedr. 237d speaks of our innate desire for pleasure (emphutos epithumia hêdonôn) in contrast to opinions that are acquired (epiktêtos doxa; Fowler 1913, 444–45).

The word is sometimes used in the sense of something firmly established, but not necessarily inborn or innate:

  • Barn. 1.2: "his grace planted within you" (emphuton charin; Ehrman 2003, 2:12–13);
  • Barn. 9.9: Jesus' "placing the implanted gift (emphuton dôrean) of his teaching in us" (Ehrman 2003, 2:44).

21c save your souls Eschatological Salvation

In James

James uses the verb "to save" sôᵢzô in four other passages:

  • Jas 2:14: "Can this faith save him?"
  • Jas 4:12: "There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy."
  • Jas 5:15: "and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up."
  • Jas 5:20: "he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."

Jas 4:12 and 5:20 clearly refer to eschatological judgment; it is likely that all five of James' references have this connotation (Literary Devices 5:15ab).

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).

Grammar

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:

  • receiving or accepting the message of the gospel; 
  • or receiving, i.e. being open to, the natural sense of right and wrong that exists in one's conscience.

Literary Devices

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:

  • "all sordidness" (pasa ruparia);
  • "abundance of evil" (perisseia kakias).

Context

Peritestamental Literature

21b implanted Virtues Implanted in the Human Soul  Philo Plant. 37 speaks of virtues implanted in the human rational soul (cf. Ancient Texts 1:21b; Christian Tradition 1:21b):

  • Scriptural references to the trees in the Garden of Eden (the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) are allegorical: "these can be no growths of earthly soil, but must be those of the reasonable soul" (psuchê logike).
  • “We must conceive therefore that the bountiful God plants (emphuteuô) in the soul as it were a garden of virtues (paradeison aretôn) and of the modes of conduct corresponding to each of them (tôn kat' autas praxeôn) garden that brings the soul to perfect happiness" (Colson 1930, 3:230–31).

Reception

Comparison of Versions

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."

Christian Tradition

21a all sordidness and abundance of wickedness Distinction: Inner and Outer Vices

Interior and Exterior Evils

The tradition distinguishes between the two terms "all sordidness" and "abundance of wickedness".  Bede Ep. cath.Hurst 1983, 191; Hurst 1985, 19); reproduced in the Gloss. Ord. ad loc. (col. 1272): 

  • sordidness: "both of body and of soul";
  • wickedness: "belongs particularly to the perversity of the inward man" (interior homo).

Preparation for Receiving the Word

Many interpreters see here James' admonition to prepare oneself to receive God's world:

  • Bede Ep. cath. "he orders that they cleanse both body and mind from vices, that they may be able to receive the word of salvation" (verbum salutis; Hurst 1983, 191; Hurst 1985, 19).

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:

  • Erasmus Iac. Par. ad loc. "if you want the seed of the evangelical word, which has been cast only once, to produce fruit in you…then clear away from the field of your breast…all the passions with which the human soul is polluted, the thorns of greed, the sand of rashness, the mud of lust, the rocks of pride and obstinacy" (Bateman 1993, 144).

21b with gentleness A Virtue Opposing Anger

  • Gloss. Ord. glosses "gentleness" (mansuetudo) with "against anger" (contra iram), in harmony with the Greco-Roman ethical tradition (col. 1271; Ancient Texts 1:21b).
  • Ps.-Oecumenius Comm. Ep. Cath. ad loc.  "The handing on of the teaching (paradochê didaskalias) should be with gentleness (en prautêti), and not with noise and confusion" (en thorubôᵢ kai tarachêᵢ; col. 468b).

Text

Vocabulary

21c save your souls Eschatological Salvation James uses the verb sôᵢzô ("save") in four other passages:

  • Jas 2:14: "Can this faith save him?"
  • Jas 4:12: "There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy."
  • Jas 5:15: "and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up."
  • Jas 5:20: "he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."

Jas 4:12 and 5:20 clearly refer to eschatological judgment; it is likely that all five of James' references have this connotation (Literary Devices 5:15ab).

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.

  • A basic meaning is the life-force that animates a body; e.g., Acts 20:10; cf. Aristotle De an. 2.4; (415b).
  • It can refer to the seat of a person's emotions: "My soul is sorrowful even to death" (Mt 26:38); cf. Mt 22:37
  • It can refer to a person's whole life, including physical life: "the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life (psuchê) as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45).

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 = rûa; 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.

Context

Biblical Intertextuality

18–21 Drawing on a Common Christian Baptismal Exhortation?

James and 1 Peter

Jas 1:18–21 and 1Pt 1:23–2:2 have several parallels: 

  • 1Pt 1:23: “You have been born anew” (anagegennêmenoi) || Jas 1:18: “Of his own will, He gave us birth by the word of truth.” 
  • 1Pt 1:23: “through the living and abiding word of God” (dia logou zôntos theou) || Jas 1:18,21: “gave us birth by the word of truth (logôᵢ alêtheias)…receive the implanted word” (emphuton logon).
  • 1Pt 2:1: “Rid yourselves (apothemenoi) of all malice” || Jas 1:21: “put away (apothemenoi) all sordidness”; cf. 1Pt 3:21: “not a removal of dirt (apothesis rhupou) from the body.” 
  • 1Pt 2:2: reference to salvation (sôteria) || Jas 1:21: reference to saving (sôsai) your souls.

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.

Other Parallel Uses of "Putting Away"

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.

  • Rom 13:12: "let us then throw off the works (erga) of darkness."
  • Eph 4:22: "that you should put away the old self of your former way of life."
  • Eph 4:25: "Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another."
  • Col 3:8: "But now you must put them all away: anger (orgê), fury, malice (kakia), slander, obscene language."
  • Heb 12:1:  "let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us."

Peritestamental Literature

21c able to save your souls Salvation of the Soul through the Logos

  •  Philo Leg. 3.137 "For only then does the soul (psuchê) begin to be saved (sôᵢzetai), when the seat of anger (thumos) has received reason (logos) as its charioteer" (hêniocheô; Colson and Whitaker 1929, 1:392–93).

Suggestions for Reading

18–27 Exhortation to Doing the Word

Thematic Structure 

Although some interpreters see Jas 1:19 as a thematic statement developed in Jas 1:20–27, the following thematic flow of thought is evident:

  • Vv. 18–21: An example of God's good gift: "the word of truth." God implants (Jas 1:21)  a "word of truth" (Jas 1:18), the natural law of right and wrong, within each person. This law exhorts one to bridle his speech and his passions (such as anger). 
  • Vv. 22–27: One must not only hear this law, but act on it. Bridling one's tongue (Jas 1:19; 26) and caring for widows and orphans (Jas 1:27) are two specific ways of living out this law.

Interpretive Issues

  • Jas 1:18–21: One interpretive crux is clarifying the identity of the "word of truth" and the "first-fruits of his creatures" (Jas 1:18) together with the "implanted word" (Jas 1:21). One strand takes the "first fruits" as Christians, and thus the "the word of truth" and the "implanted word" as the gospel message of salvation through Jesus. Another strand, in contrast, takes the "word" to be God's word at creation, and thus the "first-fruits" to be humanity in its pre-eminence over the rest of creation (Christian Tradition 1:18b; Christian Tradition 1:21a).
  • Jas 1:19: James' advice on controlling anger renewed a classical ethical debate on whether anger should be rooted out as a wholly negative vice, or whether controlled anger has a place in the struggle to attain justice and the good (Ancient Texts 1:19c ; Christian Tradition 1:19–20). 
  • Jas 1:23–25: The word of truth is identified with the Torah. Comparing the "word of truth" to a mirror in which a human can see a reflection of his original, God-given nature (Jas 1:23–24, James then identifies the mirror with the "perfect law of freedom," the Torah as interpreted by Jesus (Jas 1:25). 
  • Jas 1:26: James' advice to bridle the tongue is situated within a rich Greco-Roman ethical tradition that valued brevity of speech and self-control; many biblical parallels are also apparent (Ancient Texts 1:26bLiterary Devices 1:26b; Biblical Intertextuality 1:26b).
  • Jas 1:27:  James' admonition to care for orphans and widows develops a common scriptural topos (Biblical Intertextuality 1:27). The tradition understood James' admonition both literally and as referring to the care of the poor and vulnerable in general (Christian Tradition 1:27; Christian Tradition 1:27b).

Ancient Texts

21b,3:13b gentleness Virtue opposite to Anger; Trait of Socrates

  • Aristotle Rhetoric 2.3 [1380a] "becoming angry is the opposite of becoming mild, and anger (orgê) of mildness (praotêtis)…Let us then define making mild as the quieting and appeasing of anger" (Freese 1926, 184–85).
  • Aristotle Nic. Eth. 4.5.1 [1125B] "Gentleness (praotês) is the observance of the mean (mesotês) in relation to anger" (orgê; Rackham 1934, 230–31).
  • Plutarch Cohib. Ira portrays the man who acts with gentleness (using praus and cognates) as the opposite of the man who gives way to uncontrolled anger (e.g., 453c, 458e, 459c, 461a, 462a, 462d, 464d; Literary Devices 1:21b).
  • Plato Phaed. 116C: Socrates is called the "noblest, gentlest (praᵢotaton), and best" of men faced with death (Emlyn-Jones 1914, 516–17); cf. Biblical Intertextuality 1:21b,3:13b.

Peritestamental Literature

21b gentleness A Characteristic of God

  • Philo Det. 146 "But if He punishes us, He will of His gracious goodness, gently and kindly (epieikôs kai praᵢôs) correct our faults" (Colson and Whitaker 1929, 2:298–99).

Reception

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

21b,3:13b gentleness Moses, Sirach, Jesus, Christians

OT

Moses' Extraordinary Humility

The wise lawgiver Moses is known as having been most gentle, meek, and humble (Vocabulary 3:13b): 

  • Nm 12:3: "Now the man Moses was very gentle (Greek: praus; Hebrew: ‘nw "humble"), more than anyone else on earth."
  • Sir 45:4: "Because of his [Moses'] trustworthiness and gentleness (prautês) God selected him from all flesh."

Christians maintained this tradition of Moses' exceeding humility (e.g., Jerome of Stridon Ep. 82.3).

A Major Theme in Sirach

  • Sir 1:34–35 (G-1:27): "For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline; faithfulness and gentleness (prautês) are his delight."
  • Sir 3:19 (G-3:17): "My son, conduct your affairs with gentleness (en prautêti), and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts"
  • Sir 4:8: "Give a hearing to the poor, and return their greeting with gentleness (en prautêti)
  • Sir 10:31 (G-10:28): "My son, with humility (en prautêti) have self-esteem; and give yourself the esteem you deserve."

NT

Gentleness in Jesus' Teachings
  • Jesus says of himself, "I am gentle (praus) and humble (tapeinos) of heart" (Mt 11:29). Cf. Mt 21:5 and Paul's application to Jesus in 2Cor 10:1.
  • Mt 5:5: "Blessed are the meek."
Doing Deeds with Gentleness
  • 1Cor 4:21: "Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a gentle spirit (prautês)?"
  • Gal 6:1: "correct that one [i.e., a fellow Christian] in a gentle spirit" cf. 2Tm 2:25.
  • 1Pt 3:15–16: an admonition to explain Christian beliefs with gentleness.
A Christian Virtue

Prautês and its cognates are often linked with tapeinos ("humble") and its cognates: Is 26:6; Mt 11:29; Eph 4:2; Col 3:12; cf. Ancient Texts 1:21b,3:13b.