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8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself,"you do well;
8 Howbeit if ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well
9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
9 but if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors.
9 But if you discriminate among men, you commit sin and you will be condemned by the law as transgressors of the law.
10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one [point], he has become guilty of all.
10 Now whoever has observed the whole law, yet who offends in one matter, has become guilty of all.
11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery,"also said, "You shall not murder."Now if you do not commit adultery, but [yet ]you murder, [then ]you have become a transgressor of the law.
11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou dost not commit adultery, but killest, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not kill.” So if you do not commit adultery, but you kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.
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.
8a the scripture Individual Passage or Scripture as a Whole? The Greek hê graphê can refer to an individual scriptural passage (e.g., as in Mk 12:10) or to scripture as a whole (e.g., Acts 8:32). V takes it in the latter sense, rendering scripturas; S simply renders, "as it is written" (passive participle of ktb).
8a in accordance with the scripture Scripture as the Norm The G is kata tên graphên. This use of kata with the accusative means "in conformity with," "according to the norm of"; cf. 1Cor 15:3.
8b in accordance with the scripture Jesus’ Teaching: Love as The Norm of The Law James teaches that the royal law (the Torah as interpreted by Jesus) is fulfilled when it is carried out in accordance with one of its commandments, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Lv 19:18). In other words, Lv 19:18 expresses the key value which governs the law as a whole.
James may follow Jesus' teaching here (see →James: Jesus' Traditions in James). Jesus had identified Lv 19:18, together with Dt 6:4–5 (loving the Lord with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength) as the two greatest commandments of the Torah (Mk 12:28–34; cf. Mt 19:19).
8a royal law Royalty, Freedom, Reason, and the Law in 4 Maccabees
8a royal law Deist View: Love is the Essence of Christianity
Tindale here cites this passage, along with numerous other NT texts, to demonstrate that Christ and his apostles valued the virtue of love (charity) over dogmatic confessions of faith (53).
9b convicted by the law Irony In Jas 2:4, community members set themselves up as judges over community members; here they themselves are convicted by the law as violators of the law.
10b stumbles Metaphor for Sinning
11b If you do not commit adultery, yet do kill Allusive Accusation of Murder?
1–13 Exhortation to Impartiality towards the Rich
Two specific passages have attracted the greatest attention in the history of interpretation:
10b guilty of all Integrity of the Law The author of 4 Maccabees agrees with James about the implication of breaking one commandment, giving the following reasoning:
3,8,19 nobly Semantic Field of Kalôs The Greek adjective kalos denotes something excellent in quality, morally good, or beautiful. James uses the adjective and its adverbial form several times in this pericope (Jas 2:1–13). The present translation as "noble" attempts to render the connotations expressing both external and internal value qualities of persons and actions.
In Jas 2:3, the Greek reads the adverb "sit here well" (kalôs). James here intends a contrast with the seating of the poor man—"sit here by my footstool." The contrast is clearly between seating one in a place of honor (appropriate to his rank as a wealthy man) and seating another, the poor man, in a less honorable position. Alternatively, kalôs can also be taken as a term of politeness, as in the NRSV rendering, "Have a seat here, please."
In Jas 2:7, James applies the adjective kalos to God's name; he may intend a contrast between the false honor of giving preferential treatment to a rich man and the true honor associated with God.
James also uses the adverb kalôs in Jas 2:8: the one who fulfills the royal law does well; one could also translate "acts nobly;" see the same phrase in Jas 2:19. The adjective kalos in Jas 3:13 and Jas 4:17 is also with a clear stress on the morally good aspect.
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.”
8a royal law Royal Law in Stoic and Platonic Contexts The phrase "royal law" would have been familiar in a Greco-Roman philosophical context:
This Stoic conception of the law closely parallels James' understanding of law as God's law naturally inherent in humans as the "impanted word" (Jas 1:21). The written form of this natural law is the Torah (Jas 1:23–25; 2:10–11).
In this sense, James may use "royal" to refer to the law as authored by God the King; or perhaps "royal" in the sense of the supreme law that rules all things.
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:
8b love your neighbor as youself Three Types of Love
9f convicted by the law as transgressors Enthymemes James argument in Jas 2:9–10 may be characterized as an enthymeme. → 1.2.13 [1357A] describes the enthymeme as a kind of deductive argument with an implicit premise which the hearer supplies based on assumed common knowledge. Rhet.→ 5.10.1–3 lists five types of enthymemes, one of which is an "imperfect syllogism": Inst.
James' enthymemes may be analyzed thus (→, 106–7):
The enthymeme in Jas 2:11 is a variation of this argument:
10b guilty Judicial Language The Greek enochos can mean that a person is legally responsible, and thus subject to punishment for a particular transgression.
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 .
8–11 If you actually fulfill the royal law Exornatio: Appeal to the Law In attempting to demonstrate that their partiality to the rich violates the law, James uses a typical topos in Greco-Roman protreptic (persusasive speech): the attempt to persuade the audience to act in accordance with the law.
10b guilty of all Stoic Doctrine: Integral Nature of All Virtues and Vices The Stoics believed that all virtues were interconnected, as were all vices:
11a Do not commit adultery Two Examples from the Decalogue James lists two examples of commandments: the prohibition of adultery and of murder.
8b love your neighbor as yourself Love of Neighbor as the Central Commandment of the Torah The rabbinic tradition also sees the love of neighbor and Lv 19:18 in particular as central to the Torah.
10b guilty of all False Penance and the Integrity of the Law
The Second Lateran Council (1139) quotes Jas 2:10 in its condemnation of false penances. The Council teaches that "a penance is false when many sins are disregarded and a penance is performed for one only or when it is done for one sin in such a way that the penitent does not renounce another." Quoting Jas 2:10, the Council comments, "this evidently pertains to eternal life. Therefore, just as a person who is entangled in all sins will not enter the gate of eternal life, so also if a person remains in one sin" (in uno tantum maneat; →DzH 717; Christian Tradition 2:10b).
→CCC 2069 references Jas 2:10–11 in teaching that the two "tables" of the Decalogue (i.e., commandments concerning the worship of God and commandments concerning behavior towards one's neighbor) form an integral whole:
8a actually Setting up a Contrast The particle mentoi typically has an adversative sense, thus one may translate, "However, if you actually fulfill..." Mentoi can also have the sense of "actually" or "really." This latter sense is more consistent with the flow of James' argument.
Mentoi should be taken with the de of the following verse to set up a strong contrast between two conditional statements:
James' point is that fulfilling the royal law absolutely excludes any partiality.
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.
8a the royal law Echo
9a show partiality ...convicted by the law: Different Senses in Which Partiality Violates the Law How precisely partiality transgresses the Law is unclear. Some of the possibilities are as follows.
The first option is more likely for two reasons:
10b guilty of all Integrity of The Whole Law
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:18–19), similarly taught that the violation of a single commandment is a serious matter that implies an attack on the Law as a whole:
10b guilty of all Integrity of the Whole Law The significance of following or not following a single commandment in relation to the Torah as a whole is a theme that surfaces frequently in rabbinic literature:
9 show partiality ...convicted by the law: Which Laws are Broken?
10b has become guilty of all Various Interpretations
Augustine devotes a lengthy letter to Jerome, as well as a sermon, to the interpretation of this passage. He questions: Is James really implying that a person who shows favoritism should also "be judged an idolater, a blasphemer, an adulterer, a murderer?" ( → 167.3; Ep. 2005, 2/3: 96; , 591). Is James really implying (as the Stoics teach) that all sins or vices are equal? Augustine rejects this idea, since some sins are indeed worse than others (→ 179A.2). Serm.
Augustine's solution is to recall Jesus' teaching that the central commandments of the Law involve love: "Love the Lord your God" and "Love your neighbor as yourself":
Many commentators agree with Augustine's interpretation:
→ 1.29 (14) offers two influential interpretations: Poen.
→ 58 interprets "one" as a reference to God as the ultimate One, and the "all" as a reference to the plurality of the created world. "Creatures, by the fact that they are from the One but below the One, necessarily fall into number, plurality, distinction, guilt, and fault…" ( Exp. Exod. , 63; , 63-64). The context is Eckhart's defense of the thesis that there are no distinctions of attributes in the utter oneness of God (cf. → 110). Exp. Sap.
The Calvinist tradition understands James to refer to the moral law given to all humans, and exemplified in the Ten Commandments (→WLC Q. 99).