The Bible in Its Traditions

James 5:11

Byz TR
Nes S TR
V

11  Indeed we count those blessed who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and you saw the end of YHWH-that He is compassionate and He is merciful.

11  Behold, we call them blessed that endured: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful.

11  Consider that we beatify those who have endured. You have heard of the patient suffering of Job. And you have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is merciful and compassionate.

11a blessed who persevered Jas 1:12,25 11b perseverance of Job Jb 1:21; 2:10 11c compassionate is the Lord Ex 34:6; Ps 145:8; Jl 2:13; Jon 4:2

Text

Textual Criticism

11b see : Byz | TR Nes: you saw

  • A and the second corrector of B read the imperative "See!" (idete);
  • Nes follows the witnesses which read the indicative aorist "you saw" (eidete). 

Literary Devices

3:4f,5:4,7,9,11 Look Call for Attention James uses the verb idou (V = ecce) several times throughout the work to call special attention to what follows.

Reception

Christian Tradition

7–12 Divisio Textus In Ps.-Andreas Catena the heading for this section is, "Concerning patience (makrothumia) and perseverance (hupomonê) during suffering, and concerning the truth" (Cramer 1844, 8:34).

Islam

11c compassionate is he and merciful God’s Merciful Nature A standard characterization of God in the Qur'an is "most gracious, most merciful" (Arabic: rahman and rahim); the phrase opens every chapter (sura) in the Qur'an with the exception of one. See also Vocabulary 5:11c and Biblical Intertextuality 5:11c.

Text

Grammar

11b the end of the Lord Genitive of Agency In the immediate context, the phrase to telos Kuriou is most likely a type of genitive of origin or source: the final result caused by the Lord.

Vocabulary

1:3f,5:11 perseverance Courageous Patience James uses two word families to describe the virtue of patience: the noun hupomonê with the cognate verb hupomenô (used in Jas 1:3–4,12; 5:11) and makrothumeô / makrothumia (Vocabulary Jas 5:7-8,10).

Hupomonê is closely connected with testing (peirasmos): the testing of one's faith produces perseverance (hupomonê, Jas 1:4); the blessed person perseveres (hupomenô) through trial until he reaches his eschatological reward (Jas 1:12; 5:11). Job is held out as an example of hupomonê (Jas 5:11). See also Biblical Intertextuality 1:3.

The virtue of hupomonê is regularly discussed in conjunction with the virtue of courage (andreia) in the writing of Aristotle and the Stoics (Ancient Texts 1:3).

Reception

Liturgies

10–20 Use in Lectionary BL : Special and General Feasts: Prophets; 1 of 3 reading options.

Islam

11b perseverance of Job Character of Job In the Islamic tradition, Job is considered a prophet. His perseverance figures prominently. The Qur'an parallels James in connecting Job's perseverance with God's mercy,  "And (remember) Job, when he cried to his Lord, 'Truly distress has seized me, but thou art the most merciful of those that are merciful'" (Qur’an 21.83). After recounting Job's affliction and eventual reward (cf. Jb 42), God says, "Truly We found him full of patience and constancy" (Qur’an 38:44; cf. 38:41-44). See also Biblical Intertextuality 5:11b; Peritestamental Literature 5:11b; Christian Tradition 5:11b.

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Vocabulary

11c compassionate Hapax Legomenon James' term polusplagchnos is unattested in G or Greek literature before James. It is a hapax legomenon, but its meaning is not difficult to deduce. It is composed of polus, "much, great," and the noun splagchna, "innards," understood as the seat of passions, particularly compassion. Here James is  not directly dependent on G, for there we encounter a similar word pair oiktirmôn and polueleos (Neh 9:17; Ps 86:15 (85:15); Ps 103:8 (102:8); Jl 2:13; Jon 4:2).

The Shepherd of Hermas uses the adjective and cognate noun frequently to describe the Lord (Herm. Vis. 1.3.2 "the Lord's compassion has granted you and your household mercy"; 2.2.8; Sim. 5.7.4). See also Biblical Intertextuality 5:11c and Islam 5:11c.

Literary Devices

11a Look, we call blessed those who persevere Echo James echoes his earlier statement, "Blessed is the man who perseveres through trials" (Jas 1:12). In that passage, James specifies that the blessedness of those who persevere consists in their receiving their eschatological reward: the crown of life.

Context

Biblical Intertextuality

11b perseverance of Job Biblical Portrait of Job The figure of Job as a model of patient endurance is seen primarily in the prose introduction (ch. 1-2) and ending (ch. 42). For example:

  • Jb 1:21: "Naked I came forth from my mother's womb, and naked shall I go back there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"
  • Jb 2:10: "We accept good things from God; should we not accept evil?"

By contrast, in the verse dialogue with his friends, which comprises the main portion of the book, Job often complains that the Lord is treating him unfairly (e.g., Jb 7:11-16; 10:18; 23:2). Elsewhere Job is remembered as the paradigmatic righteous man (Ez 14:14). James apparently presumes that his readers will be familiar with other traditions (e.g., as reflected in T. Job) that emphasize Job's patience and perseverance. See also Peritestamental Literature 5:11b ; Christian Tradition 5:11b; Islam 5:11b.

11c merciful God’s Merciful Nature James uses the term oiktirmôn to describe the Lord, evoking a rich background of references to the merciful Lord, as in the following examples. 

  • "The Lord, a God gracious (oiktirmôn) and merciful, slow to anger (makrothumos) and abounding in love and fidelity, (Ex 34:6; cf. Ps 143:8 [G-144:8]). See Jl 2:13, Jon 4:2 and many similar passages for the combination of oiktirmôn and makrothumos as descriptors of God. 
  • "Since the Lord, your God, is a merciful (oiktirmôn) God, he will not abandon or destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them" (Dt 4:31).
  • "But God being compassionate (oiktirmôn) forgave their sin; he did not utterly destroy them" (Ps 78:38 [G-77:38]).

Suggestions for Reading

7–11 Theme of Patience

Theme of Patience

Jas 5:7-11 focuses on various aspects of patience (using two words to express the idea: makrothumeô / makrothumia and hupomenô / hupomonê). James' admonitions address two main aspects of patience:

  • waiting patiently for something, in this case for the coming of the Lord (parousia Kuriou) (vv. 7-8);
  • patiently bearing hardship and suffering (vv. 10-11).

Relationship of v. 9 to the Rest of the Passage

Verse 9a, with its admonition to not speak badly of fellow believers, fits awkwardly within the thematic flow of Jas 5:7-11, leading some commentators to conclude that it originally was an independent saying. The other verses in Jas 5:7-11 focus on patience, while v. 9 echoes James' earlier admonitions that community members not speak badly about one another (see especially Jas 4:11, and earlier admonitions on the dangers of improper speech in Jas 1:19,26, and especially Jas 3:1-12). With its further connection with the theme of judgment ("so that you are not judged"), however, the verse does fit into a further theme of the Jas 5:7-11 passage: eschatological judgment. 

The implicit logic seems to be the following: complaining against one's fellow believer is equivalent to judging him. If one judges another person, then one in turn brings judgment on oneself. This judging, in any case, is illicit, since there is only one legitimate judge: Jesus Christ. 

By placing this admonition here, James may imply that community members should patiently bear suffering caused by fellow community members, rather than complain against them.

Text

Vocabulary

11b the end of the Lord Purpose The meaning of this lapidary phrase (telos Kuriou; V: finis Domini) is ambiguous. The title Kurios may refer either to God the Father or to Jesus. Telos can have two basic meanings in this context:

The phrase is clearly set in parallel to James' reference to Job: "you have heard of the perseverance of Job" and "you have seen the telos Kuriou." The reference, then, is most likely to the Lord's final purpose or result, referring to Job's perseverance. In other words, the reference is to Job's vindication at the end of the book when Job's wealth and family are restored. A prominent interpretive trend, current in James' time, however, understands Job's final vindication as receiving eternal life. References to the resurrection are already apparent: G-Job and T. Job frequently refer to Job's heavenly reward. 

This eschatological interpretation is supported by James' calling those who have persevered "blessed"—a clear reference to Jas 1:12 which speaks of the eschatological crown to be won by those who persevere through their trials.

Grammar

11c Because compassionate is the Lord and merciful Explanatory Hoti Clause The conjunction hoti introduces an explanatory or causal phrase: the Lord brought about a blessed final result for Job, because the Lord is exceedinly compassionate and merciful.

Context

Peritestamental Literature

11b perseverance of Job Portrait of Job The Testament of Job (1st c. BC – 1st c. AD) shows remarkable parallels with James' portrait of Job.

Focus on the Perseverance of Job

Its central focus is the virtue of hupomonê

  • T. Job 1.5: At the beginning of the work, Job tells his children, "I am your father Job, fully engaged in endurance" (hupomonê).
  •  T. Job 26.5: Job says, "Rather let us be patient (makrothumeô) until the Lord, in pity, shows us mercy." 
  • T. Job 27.7: Job tells his children, "you also must be patient in everything that happens to you. For patience (makrothumia) is better than anything."

Eternal Life as a Reward for Job's Endurance

The Testament also emphasizes eternal life as Job's reward for his endurance, paralleling Jas 1:12 and possibly Jas 5:11b (see also Vocabulary 5:11b and Christian Tradition 5:11b).

  • "You [Job] shall be raised up in the resurrection. For you will be like a sparring athlete, both enduring (kartereô) pains and winning the crown" (T. Job 4.9-10).
  • Job says, "my heart is fixed on heavenly concerns, for there is no upset in heaven" (T. Job 36.3).

One sees this interpretive tradition already in G-Jb 42:17, which adds to the account of Job's death the comment, "It is written that he will rise again with those the Lord raises up." Christians read other passages as references to the resurrection:  Jb 14:14, "For if a man dies, shall he live again?"; G-Jb 19:26, "may my skin rise up" (cited in 1 Clem. 26.3 as a proof of the resurrection). See also Biblical Intertextuality 5:11b; Christian Tradition 5:11b and Islam 5:11b.

Reception

Liturgies

9–12 Use in Lectionary RML : Friday, Week 7, Year 2.

Christian Tradition

11b end of the Lord Interpretation of Telos Kuriou ("end of the Lord") The tradition offers a variety of interpretations (several commentatators offer more than one).

The "End" God Planned for Job:

The "End of the Lord" Refers to the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus

  • Augustine of Hippo Symb. 10 (= Serm. 398.10) interprets the "end of the Lord" in this verse as a reference to Jesus' death on the cross, an event in which Augustine already implicity sees Jesus' resurrection. Thus, in Augustine's reading, James admonishes his readers to focus on the patience of Job, but not on the "end of Job" (Job receiving double as his recompense for earthly suffering), since the hope of recompense might spark avarice in the reader. Rather, the focus should be on the "end of the Lord": the hope of eternal life after death, "the reason you must have patience is so that you may rise again and not die, that is, never die, like Christ (ut resurgas et non moriaris, id est, numquam moriaris, sicut Christus; Hill 1995, 452 ; Vander Plaetse 1969, 195). See also Augustine of Hippo Ep. 140.26.
  • The Gloss. Ord. (V) ad loc. (interlinear) contrasts the temporal goods that were restored to Job as the "old man" (i.e., humanity before the new life in Christ) with Christ, the "new man" who bore every suffering in this world, but in his "end" was given resurrection (in fine datur resurrectio; cols. 1299-1300).
  • Martin of León Exp. Jac. ad loc.: Job is an example for bearing the sufferings of this life, and Christ is an example of bearing with the sufferings of death, with the hope of eternal life (cols. 210-11). Cf. the simlar teaching in Bede Ep. cath. ad loc. (Hurst 1985, 59-60; Hurst 1983, 220) and Ps.-Hilary of Arles Tract. Iac. ad loc. (81).
  • Lapide Comm. ad loc. summarizes the previous interpretations. Read analogically (anagogice), the "end of Christ" refers to Christ's resurrection, his ascension, the sending of the Spirit, the exalation of his name, and his worship among all nations (20:211).

Visual Arts

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 Eusebius of Cesarea Hist. eccl. 23 and Jerome Vir. ill. 2, who in turn draw on accounts from Clement of Alexandria and Hegesipus. See also →James: Introduction

Several prominent features of these portrayals may be noted:

  • Following the tradition that he was the first bishop of Jerusalem, James is often portrayed anachronistically in bishop's vestments.
  • James is often portrayed holding a fuller's club, alluding to the tradition that James was beaten to death with a such a club. Variations show him holding different types of clubs. Another related tradition shows James holding a bow such as one used by hat-makers of the Middle Ages.
  • James bears a striking physical resemblance to his brother Jesus.
  • One artistic tradition, based on accounts found in the preface to the Gloss. Ord. and de Voragine Leg. aur., portrays the infant James as part of a large extended family. According to this legend, St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, had three children named Mary with three different husbands. James and his brothers Joses (Joseph), Simon, and Jude (cf. Mk 6:3) are the sons of Mary (daughter of Anne and Cleophas; cf. Jn 19:25) and Alphaeus (cf. Mk 3:18). James and his brothers are thus cousins of Jesus (son of Mary, daughter of Anne and Joachim) and of St. John the Evangelist and James the Greater (sons of Mary, daughter of Anne and Salomas).

The following images are noteworthy:

  • A painting of James in the Armenian Sts. James Cathedral, Jerusalem: James is dressed in episcopal robes, wears a miter and holds a crozier (Gowler 2014, 54).
  • Blessed James Apostle. In the Stav. Bib. (1093-97) illuminations of the apostle James are at the introduction to the Catholic epistles (f. 197 r→) and at the beginning of his epistle (f. 197 v→.). The apostle stands, holding a book.
  • Apostle James the Less, statue, south portal of Chartres Cathedral, early 13th century.

Anonymous, James Among Other Apostles (sculpture on limestone, early 13th c.),  South Portal, Chartres Cathedral, France

© D.R. Photo Mary Ann Sullivan→ 

James holds a club.

  • Leonardo da Vinci (1495-98), The Last Supper, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. 

Giampietrino (1495–1549), The Last Supper (oil on canvas, ca. 1520, after Leonardo da Vinci [1452–1519], The Last Supper [1495-1498]),  298 cm x 770 cm

Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhib. Magdalen College, Oxford

Public Domain © Wikicommons→ 

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. 

  • Lucas Cranach the Elder (1509), Infant Saint James among his relations, a triptych in the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Germany. The infant Jesus, his mother Mary, and Mary's mother St. Anne are portrayed in the center. To the right is St. Anne's other daughter Mary, her husband Zebedee, and sons John the Evangelist and James the Greater. To the left is another of St. Anne's daughters named Mary with her husband Alphaeus; their children James, Joses (Joseph), Simon, and Jude are in the left and center panels.

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), The Holy Kinship, (mixed media on lime, Wittenberg, 1509), Altarpiece, central panel: 100.4 × 121.1 cm; wings: 40 × 120 cm

Städel Museum — 1398, Frankfurt am Main

Public Domain © Wikicommons→

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 de Voragine Leg. aur. 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.

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.

  • Paolo Veronese (Caliari) James as Bishop (1500s). Burghley House Collection, Lincolnshire, UK. The Bridgeman Art Library. James with crozier and miter, holding a book.

Paolo Veronese Cagliari (1528-1888), Saint James, (oil on canvas, ca. 1578), 200 X 85 cm, One of the volets of the organ of the church of San Jacopo, Murano, Venice — the other is a portrait of St. Augustine.

Burghley House Collection, Lincolnshire, UK, © A Graduate of Pomona→

  • Saint James the Less, painting by El Greco (c. 1612), Museo del Greco, Toledo, Spain. 

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El Greco (Domenikos Theotokópoulos) 1541-1614, The Apostle James the Greater, (Oil on canvas, 1610-1614), 100 cm X 80 cm

 Museo de El Greco→ (Toledo, Spain), © Wikicommons, 

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

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Nicolò Bambini (1651-1736), San Giacomo Minore (Oil on canvas, 1722-1723), Communion of St James (Series of the Twelve Apostles), Presbytery: right wall, center, Saint Stae,Venezia, © Chorus Venezia→ 

The risen Jesus appears to James and breaks bread with him (based on an account recorded in Jerome Vir. ill. 2, said to be drawn from the Gospel according to the Hebrews).

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Angelo de' Rossi (1671 – 1715), Jacobus Minor (Sculpture on marble, 1710-1711), Gli Apostoli, (h: 424 cm), Nef, San Giovanni in Laterano, Roma, © Wikicommons

James holds a book and club.

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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902), James the Lesser, (Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, 1886-1894), 30.6 x 23.5 cm, Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.237, © Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008

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.

Eastern Orthodox traditions

  • James the Just, Russian icon, 16th century. Novgorod. James is depicted in episcopal robes and holds a book.

Anonymous, James the Just, (pigments on wood, mid. 16th c.), icon, Novgorod or Moskow, Novgorod

Public Domain © Wikicommons→,

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.

  • Martyrdom of James the Just. Illustration from the Menologion of Basil II. (PG 117:6-612). Late 10th, early 11th c. AD. Vatican Library. Vat.gr. 1613. Image 131.→  

For discussion of visual depictions, see Gowler 2014, 53-62; Bedford 1911.