The range of thought in this epistle of James, some have said, is so limited that we are kept on rather a pedestrian level. Even if that were a strictly accurate estimate of the Epistle, let us remember that our flight to the heights from which far-reaching vistas of truth open out before us is a preparation for returning to the ordinary walk of life on its more prosaic levels. The supreme test of the quality of our religion is how we react to the long monotonous trudge on hard and stony roads, and not in the moments of ecstatic communion or in moments of specially strenuous activity (Isa. 40:31). We ought to be grateful to find in the Canon of Holy Scripture a book as severely practical as this Epistle, a book that contains words as sharp and uncompromising as these: “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves” (1:22); “you believe that God is one, and you are quite right; evil spirits also believe, and shudder” (2:19, Weymouth).

The great Christian scholar, Origen of Alexandria (circa ca. A.D. 230), is the first Church writer who explicitly quotes this Epistle as Scripture, ascribing it to James, the Lord’s brother. In the Shepherd of Hermas, written about the middle of the second century, we hear fairly clear echoes of the teaching of the Epistle. In an earlier writing, the Epistle of Clement of Rome, written about the year 96, the echoes are much fainter; indeed, the evidence supplied by this writing is of doubtful validity. But, if the external evidence for the Epistle should appear to be rather vague and inconclusive, there seems to be no doubt about the evidence supplied by the Epistle itself. It enables us to reach some conclusions with regard to the authorship ...

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