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6 But let him ask in faith, doubting nothing, for he that doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
6 But he should ask with faith, doubting nothing. For he who doubts is like a wave on the ocean, which is moved about by the wind and carried away;
6b rough waters of the sea Parallel in Sirach Sir 33:2 connects the stormy sea with one who lacks wisdom and does not follow the law, "He who hates the law is without wisdom, and is tossed about like a boat in a storm".
5–8 Exhortation to Pray for the Grace of Wisdom
The interpretive tradition developed various aspects of James' teaching, including the relationship of divine wisdom to God's grace, the endurance of trials, and to prayer.
Interpretation of James' teaching on prayer occasioned reflection on the nature of answered and unanswered prayer (Christian Tradition 1:5c).
6b rough waters of the sea Simile of Instability
6a not hesitating : Byz TR Nes | V: not hesitating | S: without being divided
6a ask in faith, not hesitating Faith as the Opposite of a Divided Mind
James reflects Jesus‘ teaching, "Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt (mê diakrithêᵢ; pass. of diakrinô) in his heart but believes (pisteuô) that which he says will happen, it shall be done for him" (Mk 11:23).
James' contrast of internal dispute or doubt (Vocabulary 1:6a) with single-minded faith also parallels closely the thought of Paul. Referring to Abraham‘s faith, "He did not doubt (ou diekrithê) God's promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith (pistis)" (Rom 4:20). Discussing conflicts in the Roman church regarding dietary practices, Paul argues, "But whoever has doubts (diakrinomenos) is condemned if he eats, because this is not from faith (pistis); for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23).
6a ask in faith, not hesitating Reformation Debates on Faith and Efficacy of Sacraments
This passage was central in a Reformation debate on the nature of faith.
Lutheran and Reformed leaders argued that James supported their view that a person must have confident faith in order to receive God's grace and forgiveness of sins. Luther often expressed the general principle.
The Catholic response to this Lutheran and Reformed conception of faith is expressed in its decree on Justification ( →Conc. Trid. Just. 9; →DzH 1533–34). In Catholic theology, justification is primarily an ontological change; hence, from that point of view, the Protestants' notion that one must have epistemological certainty in order to be justified seems to be based on a category mistake, viz. equating subjective experience with essence.
In his commentary on Jas 1:5-8, → insists that James' teaching disproves the "impious dogma" of the Catholics that "we ought to pray doubtingly, and with uncertainty as to our success ( Comm. Iac.dubitanter et incerta successus opinione esse orandum)." He contrasts the Reformed principle "that our prayers are not heard by the Lord, except when we have a confidence that we shall obtain" (nisi quum adest impetrandi fiducia). Calvin admits that a Christian may suffer temptations, and vacillate and tremble due to the weakness of the flesh, "but temptations of this kind are at length to be overcome by faith."
In his commentary on Trent, the Lutheran theologian Martin Chemnitz similarly condemns the Catholic understanding of faith as compatible with doubt. This acceptance and even encouragment of doubt concerning the forgiveness of sin, → I.9.3.2 asserts, is designed to support the Catholic system of encouraging "works" (pilgrimages, indulgences etc.) as necessary for salvation. To support the doctrine that Christians should not be in a state of agonizing doubt, but rather can have sure and firm comfort ( Ex. Conc. Trid.certa et firma consolatio) on which they can rely with sure confidence in remission of their sins (in qua certa fiducia de remissione peccatorum acquiescere possint (9.3.10). → I.9.3.16 cites Ex. Conc. Trid.Jas 1:5–8 as proof that doubt is incompatible with faith. See also → 13.E.3, citing Loc. Theo.Jas 1:6–7 in support of his view that doubt is a sin.
In his commenatry on this passage, → distinguishes between different meanings of "faith," each corrresding to a different form of doubt. See also the Glossa's reading of this passage in which these distinctions are implicit ( Comm.Christian Tradition 1:6a).
→ ad loc. also makes these distinctions in his commentary. The "faith" to which James refers is not confidence Comm. ep. cath.(fiducia) that one's prayer will be answered, but rather James refers to the Christian faith, which Estius defines as faith in the truth and in the divine promise. But the divine promise is conditional: one must ask in a way that is fitting (modo petas sicut opertet). Thus one is uncertain whether one will actually obtain what one asks for. This is thus not the "special faith" as defined by the Protestants, by which one's prayer is always heard: they fail to consider Jas 4:3 which clearly states that one may ask wrongly, and thus not receive what is asked for. Thus Calvin falsely accuses Catholics of teaching that one should pray doubtingly. For he confuses confidence in what one asks for with with faith in the divine promise when he teaches that the one who prays with faith cannot doubt.
6a ask in faith A Central Theme: Faithful and Unfaithful Prayer Three passages focus on this theme:
6a not hesitating Disobedience and Pride
Bede sees the source of hesitation the tension between one's words and one's way of life:
Other commentators see hesitation and doubts as a sign of pride:
6a ask in faith Praying in Faith
6a hesitating Judgment without Decision The Greek verb here translated as "hesitate" or hesitat in Latin is diakrinomai. Most literally diakrinô means to "separate from one another." Hence it can mean "judge" in the sense of deciding the winner of a contest or of diagnosing a disease. In the middle-passive voice, as used here, this verb generally means to "distinguish," to "parse out," to "analyse into elements." It has a philosophical resonance, used by Aristotle (cf. → 985a28) and Plato (cf. Metaph.→ 157a) to mean "to be differentiated, analysed" as opposed to being "synthesized." More generally, it can simply mean "decide for oneself." Parm.
Here, then, James does not counsel us against making a decision, but of forever remaining in the moment of crisis—perpetually judging, analysing, distinguishing, and measuring without ever making a decision. One steps back from the moment of decision and continually reflects upon possibilities—in a word, he hesitates and wavers. Thus he who is diakrinomenos regarding faith is constantly asking himself questions and refraining from decisions and actions (cf. Mk 11:23; Mt 21:21; Acts 10:20; Rom 4:20; 14:23; Christian Tradition 1:5a; Christian Tradition 1:6a; and →James: Judging). See also the note on Søren Kierkegaard's interpretation of James below (Christian Tradition 1:8).
1–12 Divisio Textus
See also →James: Medieval Divisio Textus.
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.