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13 Is there anyone wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good conduct [that] his works [are] in meekness of wisdom.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom.
13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
13b conduct Behavior or Way of Life The Greek anastrophê refers to behavior but also more broadly to a way of life. Eph 4:22 admonishes the Christian to put away his former way of life (anastrophê), marked by corruption and deceit. → 9.64 reports that Epicurus greatly admired Pyrrho's way of life. Vit. Phil.
13b works Completed Actions: Accomplisments The noun ergon the keyword for James (Vocabulary 1:4a); it means action or deed, but can also mean the result of actions. Erga may be translated as "accomplishments" here to bring out the sense of a completed action: ta erga has the collective sense of actions completed during a person's lifetime that reveal that a person acts with wisdom.
13–17 Who is wise and knowing among you? Papal Application to Bishops in his 1761 encyclical In Dominico Agro quotes Jas 3:14-17 (at → no. 7) to warn his fellow bishops that teachers of Catholic doctrine must not only be accomplished in theology, but must also be humble and motivated by love. He condemns the diversity of teachings in the Church, and recommends that all teaching should be based on the Council of Trent's Roman Catechism in order to preserve unity. Dom. ag.
13a wise and knowing Wisdom Connected with God’s Law The combination of sophos and epistêmôn is found in Deuteronomy: the terms characterize the leaders of the people (Dt 1:13-15), but also the people themselves to the extent that they follow the commandments of the Law (Dt 4:6; cf. Sir 10:28 [G-10:25] on the combination and Sir 19:23-27 [G-19:20-24] on the connection of Law and wisdom). James also closely connects God's wisdom and the Law (Jas 1:18-25). See also Vocabulary 3:15; Ancient Texts 3:13a; Biblical Intertextuality 3:13a; Christian Tradition 3:13a.
1:5,3:13,15,17 wisdom Ambiguity of “Wisdom”
When James uses the word "wisdom" (sophia) in an unqualified sense (Jas 1:5; 3:13), he understands it as the "wisdom from above" (Jas 3:15a; 3:17a), that is, a good gift from God (cf. Jas 1:17). Cf. Jewish Tradition 1:5a; Christian Tradition 1:5b.
By contrast, Jas 3:15b speaks of a "wisdom" that is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. One may interpret this passage in two ways.
13b gentleness of wisdom What Type of Genitive? The genitive may be construed in different ways:
James’ meaning is most likely the last one, since this phrase serves to define the meaning of “wise” and thus would focus on describing its characteristics.
13–18 Frequent use of parallelism In his teaching on the distinction between the two types of wisdom (one from "above, one from "below"), James often parallels two elements:
Jas 14a: "bitter jealousy and rivalry";
Jas 14b: "do not boast and lie against the truth";
Jas 16a: "jealousy and rivalry";
Jas 16a: "instability and every low-minded practice";
Jas 17d: "full of mercy and good fruits."
13b works Repeated Theme: Verbal Claims Must Be Substantiated with Actions
James’ use of the term “works” (G = erga; singular ergon) echoes his earlier use of the term.
13a who is wise Paul on Earthly and Divine Wisdom Like James, Paul contrasts divine wisdom with the wisdom of this world (1Cor 1:20-25).
13a wise and knowing → distinguishes between the two terms, seeing a reference to two things necessary for the Christian teacher: Comm. ep. cath.
→ ad loc. distinguishes sharply between those teachers guided by the wisdom from above and those guided by the wisdom from below ( Iac. Par. 1993, 158-59; 1997, 144-46). Erasmus critiques of corrupt teachers doubtless have both the clergy and the scholastic professors of contemporary Europe in mind.
3:11–4:6 Use in Lectionary →BL : Wednesday, 32nd Week after Pentecost.
13a wise and knowing Semantic Distinction between the Adjectives?
The Greek philosophical traditions closely identifies wisdom (sophia) and understanding, learned knowledge (cf. V), or science (epistêmê):
Similarly, there appears to be little semantic distinction between the terms wise (sophos) and "knowing" (epistêmôn) for James. The author is likely more motivated by stylistic concerns: his teaching on wisdom (Jas 3:13-18) features many parallel constructions (Literary Devices 3:13-18; Biblical Intertextuality 3:13a).
13b in the gentleness of wisdom What Does This Phrase Modify? Interpreters differ on what the prepositional phrase "gentleness of wisdom" modifies:
Given the position of this phrase at the end of the sentence, it was most likely intended to modify "his works."
1:21b,3:13b gentleness Virtue opposite to Anger; Trait of Socrates
13a wise Clever and/or Virtuous
At one level, the wise (sophos) person was one skilled in certain crafts or trades (e.g., → 3.85: "a skilled groom" (2:113); Hist.→ 1.9; Ol.→Pyth. 3.113: skilled poets). Thus the word can have the sense of "clever," skilled in practical matters, but not necessarily ethically good. Thus → 7 [519A] refers to those show are clever ( Resp.sophos), but use their cleverness to do evil things (kaka; cf. Jas 3:15: demonic wisdom; 2013, 2:120–123).
13–18 Divisio textus
13b let him show ...works: Comments on Faith and Works
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.
1:21b,3:13b gentleness Moses, Sirach, Jesus, Christians
The wise lawgiver Moses is known as having been most gentle, meek, and humble (Vocabulary 3:13b):
Christians maintained this tradition of Moses' exceeding humility (e.g., → 82.3). Ep.
13–18 True Wisdom Results in Peace James puts and end to his bravura piece on language with a rhetorical question refocusing his readers on his main topics: works (Literary Devices Jas 3:13b). The heart of this section is James' antithesis between the "wisdom from above" and a "wisdom from below."
Characteristically, James insists that wisdom must be demonstrated in practical action in order to be shown as genuine (Literary Devices 3:13b). A community led by the "widom from below" is characterized by jealousy, rivalry, and conflicts; a community led by the "wisdom from above" is characterized by peaceful, mutually respectful relationships between community members.
In his ethical exhortation draws on teachings paralleled in Greco-Roman, ancient Jewish, the teachings of Jesus, and early Christian sources. James most likely draws on all of these sources in expressing his own unique teaching.