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9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who are created according to [the] likeness of God.
9 Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God
9 By it we bless God the Father, and by it we speak evil of men, who have been made in the likeness of God.
10 Out of the same mouth come blessings and curses. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
10a mouth Metonymy Here James switches from the tongue to the mouth as a figure for the power of speech.
9f with it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse humans Proper Use of Technology in Proper Speech → 122 welcomes the development of motion pictures, radio, and television, as these technologies can be used for good in the fields of education, art, recreation, and the spread of the Gospel. Yet, citing Mir. Pr.Jas 3:9-10, he notes that these technologies can also be used for morally bad purposes.
1–12 An Ethics of Language The connection of this pericope with Jas 2:14–26 is not obvious. In general, however, it sustains James' concern with proper speech (→Speech in James). The specific concern of Jas 2:14–26 was the consistency between speech (confession of faith) and action. The major point of Jas 3:1–12 is clear enough: James exhorts his readers to control their tongues.
Among the most notable individual passages:
9a bless the Lord Liturgical Blessing A prayer blessing the Lord begins the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Mass:
9b come into existence according to the likeness of God Moral Application of Gn 1:26-28
James uses the phrase kath' homoiôsin theou gegonotas, alluding to G-Gn 1:26: "Let us make humans in our image (kat' eikona) and in our likeness (kath' homoiôsin)." G uses the verb poieiô for creating, while James uses the perfect of gignomai. James is unusual in the biblical tradition in his reference to the "likeness" (homoiôsis); most references back to the creation accounts (e.g., Gn 5:1; 9:6) recall the phrase "in our image" (kat' eikona).
James alludes to Gn 1:26-28 (humans, make in God's image and likeness, so as to rule over all other living creatures); cf. Gn 5:1. James' reference reinforces the similar allusion in Jas 3:7: humans are able to tame every other creature, alluding to God's commandment "to have dominion over" the rest of creation (Biblical Intertextuality 3:7b).
Gn 9:6 reads, "Anyone who sheds the blood of a human being, by a human being shall that one's blood be shed; For in the image of God have human beings been made." The implication is that it is a horrendous crime to kill someone who is created in God's image. Two justifications for this view are possible:
9b curse humans who have come into existence according to the likeness of God Moral Implications of Human Creation in the Divine Image In Second Temple Jewish texts one finds further expansions of the two moral implications of the divine image: (1) the one who disrespects humans made in the divine image disrespects the creator of that image; (2) humans should be treated well because they are made in the divine image (Biblical Intertextuality 3:9b; Theology 3:9b).
9a God Variations of the Divine Name The Sahidic Coptic and some Syriac, Vulgate, and Boharic Coptic manuscripts, read theos ("God") instead of kurios (Textual Criticism 3:9a).
10b ought not to be A Expression from the Classical Greek The classical Greek impersonal expression ou chrê is rare in Koine Greek, where it was largely replaced by dei. It does not appear elsewhere in the NT or in G.
9 bless the Lord ...curse humans: Reiterating Central Themes of James: Contrastive Comparisons James' reference to blessing the Lord and cursing humans builds on several themes prominent in James:
James closely connects worship of God and practical ethics, for example:
Blessing the Lord while cursing the humans is an example of what James calls double-mindedness (Jas 1:8). The person displays an inner conflict; he is divided, attempting to follow both values associated with God and values associated with "the world" (cf. Jas 4:4). This internal division is a variation of James' overriding theme that all division is sinful: his goal is unity and integrity both within each person and within the community. See also →James: Perfection / Wholeness in James .
9f curse Cursing in Ancient Cultures
The curse (Greek verb: kataraomai; noun: katara): is a wish that harm or disaster befall another person. Motives for cursing vary and include envy or desire to avenge a past wrong. Other curses involve future actions, cursing those who would transgress some sacred law. This category may also involve a self-curse. Often a divine power is invoked to carry out the curse. Many formal curses were inscribed on thin lead sheets (Greek: katadesmos; Latin: defixio).
In addition to these more formal, written, or ritualized curses, there were doubtless many informal curses.
Following are some examples of curses found in literature:
9f bless the Lord + curse humans / Application of Jesus’ Teaching?
9a bless the Lord and Father Reference to the Liturgical Worship of God With the phrase "bless the Lord," James likely refers to prayers said during liturgical worship.
James likely refers to the blessing formula used in prayers:
For the combination of Lord and Father, see
9b curse Prevalence of Cursing in the OT In G kataraomai means to invoke a curse on someone:
Passages often pair the promise of God's blessings with the threat of his curses:
10a Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing Relationship of Blessing and Cursing
In contrast to James' wholly negative view of cursing, Philo sees its benefits:
9a bless the Lord Blessing Formulas in Rabbinic Prayers Phrases blessing the Lord are common in rabbinic prayers:
9b made according to the likeness of God Moral Implications of the Divine Image Rabbi Akiva thus comments on the central biblical principle of Lv 19:18, "Love your neighbor as yourself":
2b–12 Divisio Textus
See also →James: Medieval Divisio Textus .
9b likeness of God Reflection on God's Image in Humans
Later commentators reflect on whether the likeness of God in humans is still discernable:
9b made according to the likeness of God The Catechism's Teaching on the Divine Image in Humans The Catechism teaches:
The image of God is the fundamental basis of human dignity, which distinguishes humanity the rest of creation (→CCC 356-57).
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.
9f we bless ...we curse: Condemnation of Hypocrisy and Double-mindedness
10a Out of the same mouth Integrity in Speech Many biblical passages support James' point that human speech must be integral and not divided:
9a Lord V S Nes: The Title "Lord" in James On James' application of the title "Lord" to both God the Father and to Jesus, see →James: The Title Kurios in James.