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1 My brothers, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, YHWH of glory, with partiality.
1 My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons.
1 My brothers, within the glorious faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, do not choose to show favoritism toward persons.
1–26 Appraisal of Faith-inspired Action This chapter presents James' demonstration of the integral relationship between genuine faith and actions. It falls into two basic sections:
1b,9b partiality Semitism The Greek noun prosôpolêmpsia (Jas 2:1) and the corresponding verb prosôpolêpteô (Jas 2:9) literally mean to "lift up the face" (or "countenance"). The noun is not attested in G or in secular Greek and may be a Christian neologism. It is clearly derived from G's verbal phrase prosôpon lambanein (cf. Lv 18:15). G's phrase, in turn, is modeled on the Hebrew phrase nāśā pānîm (cf. Lv 19:15); it is another indication of the deeply Jewish character of James' language and thought.
1–26 Deliberative Rhetoric The whole of chapter 2 is a fine example of deliberative (sumbouleutikon) rhetoric (see → 1.3.3), where the speaker seeks to dissuade his audience from a certain action or exhort them to it. Here James attempts to dissuade his readers from showing favoritism to the rich ( Rhet.Jas 2:1–13) and to exhort them to live out their faith through actions (Jas 2:14–26). The diatribe style is used frequently in deliberative rhetoric.
1–13 Exhortation to Impartiality towards the Rich
Two specific passages have attracted the greatest attention in the history of interpretation:
1b glory Glory as God’s Presence The targums use the term "glory" for a manifestation of God's presence (Biblical Intertextuality 2:1b). The Aramaic yqr regularly translates the Hebrew kbd. It is also used as a circumlocution to avoid the conclusion that God can be seen directly:
1b of glory Possible Syntactic Functions There are several grammatical possibilities for this phrase echete tên pistin tou Kuriou hêmôn Iêsou Christou tês doxês.
The distance of the word "glory" from "faith," (Biblical Intertextuality 2:1b; Textual Criticism 2:1b) the use of "glory" as a common eschatological concept in Second Temple Judaism (Jewish Tradition 2:1b), and the parallel use in 1Cor 2:8, make "Lord of glory" the best choice (Vocabulary 2:1b).
Propositio (the proposition to be proved; Jas 2:1): The faith of Jesus Christ is incompatible with displays of partiality towards the rich and powerful within the Christian community.
Ratio (the causal basis for the propositio; Jas 2:2–4): The specific example of partiality in seating the rich and influential shows that community members are making judgments incompatible with the non-judgmental faith of Jesus Christ.
Confirmatio (further confirmation of the propositio; Jas 2:5–7): In aligning themselves with the rich, church members align themselves with enemies of the faith: it is the rich who oppress poor community members and who blaspheme the name of the Lord Jesus:
Exornatio (embellishment and enrichment of the argument once the propositio is established; Jas 2:8–11): the one who shows favoritism violates the royal law (i.e., the faith of Jesus Christ: the Torah of the Kingdom taught by Jesus).
Conplexio (a brief conclusion summarizing the argument; Jas 2:12–13): James exhorts the community to abandon favoritism and to speak and act in a way consistent with the royal law. If they continue with their unwarranted judgmental and partial behavior, they themselves can expect a harsh judgment.
1–13 beloved brothers Softening of the Criticism While strongly criticizing the community for the sin of partiality towards the rich, James uses rhetorical techniques to soften his criticism’s harshness:
He also employs hypothetical scenarios and rhetorical questions instead of directly accusing members of sin:
Only at Jas 2:6a does one find direct accusation: “But you have dishonored the poor person.”
1–4 Judicial Setting The legal system in the Roman Empire enshrined preferential treatment for the rich and powerful.
1b glory Glory as a Manifestation of God’s Presence In G, the Greek word doxa is often used to translate the Hebrew kābôd, a concept referring to a visible manifestation or revelation of God’s divine nature, often described as a fire (Ex 24:17).
The glory of the Lord is regularly associated with
In the NT, the glory of God is associated with Jesus. Just as Jesus shares the name of the Lord, so he shares his glory. The doxa of Jesus is closely associated with his resurrection (Rom 6:4; 1Pt 1:21), and with his future parousia (Tt 2:13; Mk 8:38; 13:26 par.) Mk 8:38, for example, speaks of the Son of Man returning "in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
1b partiality God is Impartial: the Torah’s Commands Against Partiality
God shows no partiality in his dealings with humans (all references use prosôpolêmpsia and cognates):
The Torah warns judges not to show partiality.
1–13 Liberation Theology Perspectives
Commenting on Jas 2:5b from the perspective of the Latin American poor, Elsa Tamez concludes,
Tamez criticizes contemporary biblical exegetes of Jas 2:1–13 on two points:
1b the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory Disputed Word Order The major mss. witness the following word order: tên pistin tou Kuriou hêmôn Iêsou Christou tês doxês, literally, "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory." The construction is awkward, and in an attempt to clarify the meaning, some late minuscules place tês doxês, "of glory," after pistin, "faith," giving the literal reading "faith of glory," i.e., "glorious faith;" cf. S in Comparison of Versions 2:1b.
1b faith of our Lord Objective or Subjective Genitive? State of Belief or Body of Teaching?
Grammatically, the phrase, "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ" (pistis tou kuriou hêmôn Iêsou Christou) may be
The Letter as a whole offers no contextual clues to specify James' meaning, since the Letter discusses neither Jesus as the object of belief nor Jesus' own faith.
The word pistis has two basic meanings in Greek (cf. →James: Faith in James ):
As James speaks of holding (Greek: echô) the faith of the Lord, it is likely that he refers to faith as a body of beliefs, cf. Jude 3: "the faith that was once for all handed down to the holy ones."
It is possible that James thinks of beliefs concerning Jesus, as found in 1Cor 15:3: "For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." The Letter as a whole, however, says nothing directly about beliefs concerning Jesus. James' consistent use of Jesus' teaching (cf. →James: Jesus' Traditions in James) reveals that James' primary concern centers on Jesus as a teacher, specifically, the teacher of the messianic Torah: the royal law (Jas 2:8) which in turn is equivalent to the law of freedom (Jas 1:25; 2:12); cf. Jas 2:9–11; 4:11: the Torah as interpreted by Jesus.
The "faith of Jesus Christ," then, seems to be equivalent to the religion (Jas 1:26–27) of Jesus, i.e., the body of teachings incorporating Jesus' interpretation of the Torah. Even with this emphasis on following Jesus' teaching, the subjective element is not completely lost. Jesus' teaching often called for a radical faith (trust) in God, and thus James' may presuppose a sense of Jesus' own strong faith in God the Father.
1–13 Theme of Wholeness and Division James continues the contrast between godly wholeness and sinful division: just as an individual person should not be divided and double-minded (Jas 1:6–8), so too the church members should not be divided by showing partiality to the rich in the community (Jas 2:4). See also→James: Perfection / Wholeness in James .
1b do not show partiality Catholic Social Teaching In line with the thought of James, Catholic Social Teaching strongly condemns partiality or discrimination, insisting that all people should be treated equally since all are created in God's image (cf. Jas 3:9) and redeemed by Christ:
See further →James: Catholic Social Teaching .
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.
1b glory Range of Meanings The noun doxa has a wide range of possible meanings.
1b glory Uncertainty on the Position and Meaning of “Glory” in this Verse S, along with the Coptic Bohairic and some Sahidic witnesses, following some late miniscules, places "of glory" after "faith," yielding the reading: "glorious faith" (Textual Criticism 2:1b).
1–4 show partiality Teaching on the Sin of Partiality
→ 167.18 discusses two possible scenarios: Ep.
→ ad 2:2 comments that partiality to the rich contradicts the essential equality of all Christians. All Christians are equal since: Ep. Cath.
Church orders urge that concern be shown for the poor who visit a congregation:
→Gloss. Ord. ad 2:1 "Whoever chooses the wealthy because of his wealth, and rejects the poor because of his poverty, in both cases sins" (utrobique peccat; 1275–76).
The Pelagian tract "On Riches" (→ 14.2), a severe critique of Christians who rationalize their own accumulation and valuing of wealth, in contradiction to the pattern offered by Jesus and his disciples, alludes to Div.Jas 2:1-4:
James Begg's 1838 pamplet condemning the Church of Scotland's practice of charging rents for church seats, quotes Jas 1:1-4.
→ 2-2.63.1–4 makes the following points in his teaching on partiality ( STacceptio personarum, translated as "respect of persons").