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19 Brothers, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth, and anyone turns him back,
19 My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him;
19 My brothers, if anyone of you strays from the truth, and if someone converts him,
16–20 Use in Lectionary →RML (1570) : Rogation Days (Monday and Wednesday before Ascension).
19a from the truth : passim | S the way of truth
19a If anyone among you A Generalized Situation James uses the indefinite pronoun tis and the aorist subjunctive in order to present a very generalized situation in the community (Literary Devices 5:19-20).
10–20 Use in Lectionary →BL : Special and General Feasts: Prophets; 1 of 3 reading options.
This generalized example of one community member helping to turn back a fellow community member who had strayed from the faith follows naturally upon James' discussion in Jas 5:13-18 on the importance of intercessory prayer for mutual needs in the community.
After spending so much of the letter excoriating the community for its divisions (e.g., Jas 2:1-13; 4:1-2; 11-12), James ends with a vision of how members of the community should cooperate with one another.
In this passage, one member (the converter) helps another return to the faith (the converted). Verse 20 has two basic ambiguities.
Regarding (1), the reference is almost surely to the soul of the converted. The danger of eternal death applies much more naturally to the one who has wandered from the faith than from the one who has remained in the faith.
Regarding (2), it seems anti-climactic to assert that the converted's soul is saved from death and then add that a multitude of his sins are covered. The consensus of the Christian tradition takes this phrase to apply to the sins of the converter (Christian Tradition 5:20c): his sins are covered as a reward for bringing a wandering sheep back into the fold.
19f truth Truth as the Christian Way of Life James has used the word "truth" (alêtheia) twice previously:
By truth, then, James clearly understands the entire Christian way of life, centered on following the "perfect law of freedom," the Torah as interpreted by Jesus, with its emphasis on God's mercy (Jas 2:12-13).
In this sense, James is close to the "two ways" theology, where the Christian "way" (hodos), the way of life, is contrasted with the way of death (e.g., →Did. 1:1; →Barn. 18.1). Some textual traditions in fact have expanded "truth" to "way of truth" (hodos alêtheias). Cf. Textual Criticism 5:19a.
19a wander from the way Imagery of Wandering and Error The Greek planaô has the sense of wandering about aimlessly: Matthew uses it to describe the one sheep who wanders away from the rest (Mt 18:12); 1 Peter applies it to the community: "For you had gone astray like sheep" (1Pt 2:25; cf. G-Is 53:6); cf. the application to false prophets (2Pt 2:15).
At Jas 1:16, James uses the passive of the same word to warn the community, "Do not be misled!" The Greek planê (error, used in v. 20a: "the error of his way") is the noun form of the verb planaô. See also Christian Tradition 1:16.
19f brothers Establishing a Fraternal Tone James returns to the direct address of his audience as "brothers," last used at Jas 5:12 to introduce the prohibition of oaths. James again employs his typical phrase "among you" (en humin; e.g., Jas 4:1; Jas 5:13-14) in order to emphasize the communal setting of his audience.
19f turns back a sinner Fraternal Correction and Conversion in Greco-Roman Moral Tradition
For the Greeks, the mark of a true friend is his willingness to correct one’s faults. There ought to be “frankness of speech” (parrêsia) among friends.
19b turns back a sinner Conversion and Repentance The word epistrephô is commonly used in prophetic admonitions to return to the Lord:
The NT also employs the word in its calls to repentance.
The above examples are all intransitive: the people turn themselves to the Lord. For the transitive sense, used in James, of one person turning around another, see the prophecy about John the Baptist: "and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God" (Lk 1:16). See also → 10.53, where King Josiah "turned the people away from their belief in gods to the service of God" ( A.J. 1965, 4:186-87).
19f if anyone among you Positive Exemplum James gives a generalized, hypothetical example of one community member turning another back to the faith. The exemplum is given as part of James' paraenesis: it is an example of proper behavior that the community should imitate. Elsewhere, James uses biblical exempla of behaviors to be imitated (e.g., Jas 2:21-23; 2:25; Jas 5:10). He also gives generalized examples of behavior to be avoided (Jas 2:2-4; 2:15-16).
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.