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25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by means of works, when she received the messengers and sent [them] out another way?
25 And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way?
25 Similarly also, Rahab, the harlot, was she not justified by works, by receiving the messengers and sending them out through another way?
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:
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.
25a Rahab Actions Inspired by Faith Lead to Salvation The story of how Rahab welcomed, hid, and cooperated with the Israelite spies sent by Joshua prior to the invasion of Jericho is told in Jo 2:1–21 (cf. Jo 6:22–25). When the king of Jericho's men inquired after the spies, Rahab misled them. Although a resident of the Canaanite city of Jericho and thus by definition a worshipper of other gods, Rahab confessed her faith in the God of Israel, "the Lord, your God, is God in heaven above and on earth below" (Jo 2:11). Her actions were rewarded when the Israelites spared her and her family from death when they conquered the city (Jo 2:13–14; cf. Jo 6:25).
Matthew's genealogical list remembers her as an ancestor of Jesus (Mt 1:5); the exempla list of scriptural heroes of faith in Hebrews includes Rahab: "By faith Rahab, the harlot, did not perish with the disobedient, for she had received the spies in peace" (Heb 11:31).
25a Rahab Positive Nachleben In general, the rabbinic tradition sees Rahab in a positive light.
14–26 Can this faith save him? Diatribe: Rhetorical Questions In this section (see vv. 14, 16, 20, 21), James continues the diatribal technique, used in the previous section (Jas 2:1–7), of asking rhetorical questions (Literary Devices 2:4–7). In that section, the questions functioned to remind his hearers of facts they should have known ("do not the rich oppress you?"); here, James attempts to get his hearers to grasp his unexpected point that faith without action is useless (v. 14: "What good is it...).
25 Rahab Rahab in Dante’s Paradisio → 9.112-26 places Rahab in the third sphere of heaven. Dante understands Rahab to be the first soul taken here after Christ's death opened the heavenly gates: "first in Christ's triumph, she was taken up" (pria ch'altr' alma / del triunfo di Cristo fu assunta) (9:119-20). See also Div. Comm. Par.Jewish Tradition 2:25a; Christian Tradition 2:25a.
21–25 Abraham our father Scriptural Exempla James presents the scriptural examples (G: paradeigma; L: exemplum) of Abraham and Rahab to establish his point that faith apart from actions cannot save a person. In addition to their function as evidence for James' argument, the exempla provide a model of how James' hearers should act—in this case, Abraham and Rahab model how the true person of faith lives out faith in action (cf. James' use of negative exempla in Jas 2:2–3 and Jas 2:15–16; examples of actions to be avoided).
Rhetorically, an exemplum is a type of proof (pistis), though it is not as persuasive as an enthymeme (→ 2.20.1–9; cf. Rhet.Literary Devices 2:9–10). For Jews and Christians, of course, exempla from Scripture carry the added persuasive weight of Scripture's authority. Exempla are frequently employed in deliberative (sumbouleutikon) rhetoric (e.g. → 1.9.40; Rhet.→ 32 [1438b]). Rhet. Alex.
In Second Temple literature, exempla lists often serve the deliberative function of providing models for the reader's imitation. Several such lists exhort the readers with examples of faithfulness under adversity: 1Mc 2:51–60 (including Abraham); →3 Macc. 6:6–9; →4 Macc. 16:20–22 (including Abraham's offering of Isaac); →4 Macc. 18:11–14 (referencing the offering of Isaac, though in this case Isaac's courage is the example). See also Sir 44–50.
Several Christian exempla lists mirror James' inclusion of Abraham and Rahab:
2:14–3:2a Divisio Textus
See also →James: Medieval Divisio Textus.
14–26 Use in Lectionary →BL: Monday, 32nd Week after Pentecost.
25a Rahab Interpretations of Rahab’s Story
In a series of exempla of biblical heroes 1 Clement includes both Abraham (ch. 10) and Rahab (ch. 12) as models of both faith and hospitality:
Early Christian tradition (Heb 11:31; 1 Clement), together with traditions recorded in later rabbinic materials (Jewish Tradition 2:25a) thus remembers Rahab as an example of faith in God. As was the case in his reflection on Abraham, it is likely that James presupposes his hearer's understanding of Rahab as a model of faith (Literary Devices 2:22a) and thus makes the implicit point that Rahab expressed her faith by protecting the Hebrew spies.
The Christian tradition also finds a hidden prophecy of Christ in Rahab's story. Rahab's sign to the spies, a scarlet cord tied in her window (Jo 2:18), is taken as a prophecy of the blood of Christ, "making it clear that it is through the blood of the Lord that redemption will come to all who believe and hope in God" (→1 Clem. 12.7–8; for this interpretion, see also → 111.4; Dial.→ 4.20.12). Haer.
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.
14–26 “You have faith, and I have works” Relationship of Faith and Works
Origen notes the inseparable relationship between faith and works in several passages
Reformers such as Calvin and Zwingli held that in Jas 2:14–26, James refers to "faith" ironically. The Roman Catholic tradition, in contrast, held that James does indeed refer to faith, but to an inadequate, "unformed" faith that cannot save a person. → 14. [quoting Loc. Theo.Jas 2:17]: "because [if] works do not follow the faith, it is a sure sign and testimony that faith is not present but a dead intellectualization and a dream" ( 2008, 2:1181; see also →Interpretation of James in the Reformation and Theology 2:17).
Tradition often teaches that both faith and works are required for salvation with or without explicit reference to James: