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26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceiving his heart, the religion of this [man ]is useless.
26 But if anyone considers himself to be religious, but he does not restrain his tongue, but instead seduces his own heart: such a one’s religion is vanity.
26 If any man thinks that he ministers to God, and does not control his tongue, he deceives his own heart, and this manÆs ministry is in vain.
26b bridling the tongue Topos: Passion as a Horse The Greek chalinagôgeô refers literally to bridling and thus controlling a horse. The image of the charioteer who can control strong horses is widespread in Hellenistic literature and philosophy (Ancient Texts 1:26b).
26f Clarifying the Relationship between Jas 1:22–25 and 1:26–27
26b bridling his tongue Guarding One's Speech
One finds exhortations to guard the tongue often in the biblical wisdom tradition:
26 thinks he is religious while not bridling his tongue Words Must Be Consistent with Actions
26b bridling his tongue Classical Image of Bridling the Passions
18–27 Exhortation to Doing the Word
26a If anyone Pluses The precise relationship between James's well-structured admonition to "do the word" in Jas 1:22–25, and the teaching on "true religion" in Jas 1:26–27 is unclear. Textual variants attempt to make the transition clearer:
26f religious Semantics of "religion" The adjective thrêskos ("religious") is found only here in the whole NT; the adjective is not found in G. The cognate noun form used later in the verse, thrêskeia, is well attested.
Thrêskeia emphasizes the public cultus (see its use in Col 2:18 for the worship of angels; Ws 14:27: the worship of idols). It is often paired with eusebeia ("piety"). Eusebeia (adjective: eusebês) is generally understood as the state of being pious (corresponding to Latin pietas), while thrêskeia concerns outward acts of piety (corresponding to Latin religio):
26c worthless Religious Connotations
The adjective mataios elsewhere in the NT characterizes activities as useless or unprofitable. For example, see Tt 3:9: "avoid foolish speculations, and those genealogies, and the quibbles and disputes about the Law—they are useless and futile (mataios)."
26a thinks that he is religious What is the Subject? The 3rd person sing. verb dokei ("to seem") can be understood as either having a subject or being impersonal. So here there are two possibilities.
26b bridling his tongue The Image of Bridling One's Speech Philo often applies the image of a bridle to controlling one's tongue (Ancient Texts 1:26b).
The image can also be used in a positive sense for unrestrained praise:
As is apparent from the following passage, the image of bridling the tongue draws on the more general image of the rational powers reining in the passions.
26f religious ...religion: Religion as Serving God S translates the adjective thrêskos (Vocabulary 1:26-27) with the Pa‘el participle of the verb šmš, literally meaning "to serve." S uses this same verb at the following places:
S uses the same root šmš for the noun at the end of the verse: "the service (tšmšth) of that person is worthless."
26b bridling his tongue James Refers Especially to Hypocrites The commentary tradition often attempts to specify what type of speech James means to control; identifying especially the hypocritical speech of one who appears to be religious outwardly, but uses his tongue for evil purposes.
Many commentators connect James' admonition with Jesus' teaching in Mt 12:36–37:
Caesarius of Arles alludes to this passage in an admonition to monks to avoid murmuring and disobedience to their superiors:
26f to look after orphans and widows in their affliction A Central Theme: Concern for the Poor In his definition of "religion," James returns to a central theme of his letter: concern for the poor and vulnerable of society:
26 thinks that he is religious while not bridling his tongue but rather deceiving his heart Emphasis on Correct Knowledge As is typical, James criticizes incorrect knowledge: here an incorrect, self-deceptive understanding of religion; cf. James's criticism of those who deceive themselves (Jas 1:22; →James: Emphasis on Correct Knowledge in James).
26b bridling his tongue Greco-Roman Tradition on Brevity of Speech
Brevity in speech is associated with strength of character; talkativeness with weakness and lack of self-control.
The Greek literary tradition was fond of collecting brief sayings or anecdotes to express the wisdom of various sages. The literary forms included (see, e.g., → 3–4): Progym.
Even the oracles of the gods were characterized by brevity of speech. This was especially true of the famed oracle of Pythian Apollo at Delphi:
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.