The Gospel According to James and Wisdom

Bill Heroman and I have been having this conversation on facebook and in person about the Good News in the letter to James.  I have argued thus far that there is Good News in that letter, and that Gospel is found in the First Testament (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament, Septuagint).  I think beneficial to our discussion is to see how we can read the First Testament into the New Testament, and the Wisdom tradition allows us to do that.

Joel provides us with such a reading in James.

“As many of you know, I believe in Wisdom Christology, finding in it the most able and biblical understanding of the nature of Christ. It is historical and historically associated with primitive Christianity. Through this lens, I admit, I generally read the New Testament documents. One of the earliest is the Epistle of James. Contrary to popular and wrong opinion, it is written by a real brother of Jesus – not a cousin or step-brother. James is writing in the Wisdom Tradition, much like that which his Brother stood in earlier.”

Wisdom’s Righteous Man as James’ Example of Suffering and Vindication | The Church of Jesus Christ.

0 thoughts on “The Gospel According to James and Wisdom

  1. irishanglican

    One of the big problems with James being the blood brother of Jesus, and next oldest, was where was James at his oldest and first born brother’s crucifixion? He would have had to have been there according to the Law, since Joseph was surely dead, and now the oldest brother is being condemned to die. And he leaves his poor Mother and John to face the music? This does not fit the Jewish law or custom. And Mary at the Cross (John 19:25-26), Jesus to words to both his Mother and John, is a last and touching fulfilment of the 4th commanment. Jesus provides for his mother, and the privileged “legatee” of this precious trust is “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. The further spiritual meaning – which attaches a declaration of the universal spiritual maternity of Mary certainly…Mother of the Church and the redemption, as the Theotokos: God-bearer.

  2. Bill

    I believe James the Epistle-writer was the blood-half-brother of Jesus of Nazareth. He rejected his brother, then he came back around. One of the most amazing, impressive things about this man’s epistle is that he calls his older brother “our Lord”. There’s a lot to admire about ol’ Jimmy.

    I also believe John’s Gospel gets in more than just that one shot at old camel knees, and that was probably on purpose. The Beloved Disciple threw in a reference or two against the legalism of some Jewish-christians. But so what?

    Hey, James was who he was. Many people (both now and probably back then) saw James as being a bit on the legalistic side, but again, so what? Maybe James was a bit legalistic and maybe that was okay with God! Maybe what one of us calls legalism is merely sincere devotion expressing itself through firm resolutions toward discipline. Nothing wrong with that. The world might just be a much better place if we all felt so sincerely.

    But he was who he was. He wasn’t Paul. He wasn’t Jesus. His reputation betrays a bit of a harder edge than the Lord’s other ambassadors from that earliest time. So? So what?

    We know why Martin Luther didn’t like James. The discussion between Rod & I was about whether James qualifies as “GOSPEL”. All I said was – it’s Good, but I’m not sure how much was News. As in “new”. As in new news… to the first century Jews. At the very least, James did mention Jesus. Twice, if memory serves. But never the cross. Never the Spirit. And never the Church.

    It’s good. James is good. I’m glad we have James in our New Testament. I just don’t think we need to homogenize James’ Epistle or FIND things within it that may not be very much there, and which may have been largely beside his rhetorical point.

    Thanks for the conversation so far, Rod. I hope that helps clarify my position a bit.

  3. Joel

    James, a blood brother of Christ – unless you interpret Scripture through a needed tradition which keeps Mary as a perpetual virgin contrary to Scripture – wrote an epistle which refers to Christ, but doesn’t contain the ‘Good News’ as the Gospels do. Further, I think that it is a throw-back to the Jewish Wisdom tradition of which Christ stood in.

    I do think that James is speaking to members of the community who need to hear something other than the Cross but to be reminded of the vindication of the Resurrection and the pathway there during a time of suffering. Is that not always Good News?

    That one day, our lives in Christ will be vindicated?

  4. irishanglican

    As I have noted, Calvin, Luther as most of the Reformers believed Mary was ever Virgin. It is within the Incarnational theology, as the Orthodox, as the High Church Anglicans, and even some Low Church Anglicans. Also even some Lutherans and Methodists (British & American). It is part of the Church Catholic for so many! (Not to mention many Church Fathers)


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