Who wrote the book of James?
According to James 1:1, the letter is written by James himself. He was the son of Joseph, a construction worker who originally lived in Nazareth in Galilee.
He is always named next after Jesus in lists of Jesus’ brothers, so he was presumably considered to be Jesus’ next younger brother.
It’s also possible that James was the oldest of Jesus’ cousins if one follows Jerome’s interpretation that adelphos means “cousin,” the children of Mary wife of Clopas, also identified as “the mother of James and Joses.”
James was a prominent figure among the communities of the followers of Jesus living in Palestine in the first century. Paul names him, along with Cephas (Peter) and John, an acknowledged “pillar” of the Jerusalem community (Galatians 2:9);…
What James means by “Faith without works is dead”
Paul famously writes that “a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
But James writes that “a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” and that “faith without works is dead.”
Which is correct? How are we to read Paul and James together?
Does James really mean that our works save us?
Before we talk about how to read Paul and James together, let’s take a close look at what James really says.
James tells us that if someone claims to have a commitment—faith—and assumes that on this basis they will be saved or delivered in the final judgment,…
What it means to read the General Epistles theologically
We recently sat down with Peter H. Davids to discuss what it a biblical theology of the General Epistles looks like. See his answer below.
His online course on the theology of James, Peter, and Jude is now open. Sign up today.
In James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude, we have a group of letters very heavily dependent on Jesus—especially First Peter and James. And they are showing how the teaching of Jesus was used by the first century church.
A theological study tends to draw the ideas together—what are the implications of this for the building of the whole of Christian theology?
I think a major issue in these works is that they’ve been so neglected. How does this Sermon on the Mount work in everyday life? How does the God that Jesus talked about function…
What’s the Point? (James 1:18) – Mondays with Mounce 293
One of the things I am sensitive to is the difference between an indicative and a non-indicative form. English style often blurs the distinction, but for Greek students it can be important to feel the difference. Often, the difference is one of nuance, but a difference nonetheless.
Look at James 1:18 in the English and tell me what is the main point?
Free Grace? – An Excerpt from Faith Alone
Many have a hard time reconciling the words of Paul with the words of James on faith and works. Does “faith without deeds is useless” discount “faith alone”? In this excerpt from Faith Alone, Thomas Schreiner explores both, bringing the two into tension. Consider this excerpt from the first book in the “5 Solas Series.”
When some hear the Reformation cry of sola fide — “Faith alone!” — they assume that it means that good works are an optional part of the Christian life or that they play no role at all in our final justification or salvation. Such a perspective radically misunderstands the NT witness, while also distorting the historical and biblical meaning of sola fide. The NT clearly teaches that bare faith cannot save, and…
Teach Students the Heart of the Christian Life Using this Resource
David Olshine has designed his new teaching resource James, 1-2 Peter, & 1-3 John for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study.
Of James’ important lesson, Olshine says, “We don’t do good deeds to become more Christ-like; we do good deeds because we are Christ-like.” (9) He explains that Peter wrote his letters “to empower and encourage the people of God to keep growing in their faith no matter how tough the times they were living in.” (63) Finally, John and his letters: “John was writing to Jesus people everywhere to understand the simple truth of Christian faith: love God and people.” (117)
To show how much this resources will benefit your youth workers—and students—I’ve selected one example lesson from James, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3…
The Ideal Resource to Help Youth Workers Teach James, Peter, and John
The series gives volunteer leaders ready-made, creative, and engaging Bible studies that will challenge their students to think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives. It also provides them with creative and engaging Bible study questions.
The second of two books recently released in the series is “James, 1 & 2 Peter, and 1-3 John.” Without skimping on depth and substance, author David Olshine has designed this resource for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study. Olshine has also constructed down-to-earth questions that get kids into the text and so they can hear God’s Word…
What Are the Common Themes and Issues in the Catholic Epistles? — An Excerpt from “A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude”
In his new book A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude (Biblical Theology of the New Testament), Peter H. Davids says “While at first blush it looks as if there are few common themes and issues in these works, a closer look identifies a number of them.” (23)
In the introduction to his volume Davids identifies eight specific themes and issues common to James, Peter, and Jude:
Shared Greco-Roman background; Common theology; Christology; View of the source of sin; Eschatology; Carry an implied authorship; Pseudonymous works; Similar ecclesiological stances;
In the excerpt below we’ve highlighted three of these shared themes to give you a taste of the scope of Davids’s work. Be sure to add his incisive resource to your collection today to enhance your teaching and preaching ministry.
While at first blush it…
How Have James, Peter, and Jude Contributed to the Canon?
Peter H. Davids believes the so-called “Catholic Epistles” deserve “a good hearing,” because their theological voices have often been neglected at the expense of Paul or John.
That’s what he aims for in his new book A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude (Biblical Theology of the New Testament).
Davids emphasizes that though these four voices are minor in size, “[they] were of great importance during the first century…and they must be allowed to balance and nuance the louder voices found in the present configuration.” (21)
To give you a small taste of this excellent resource, I want to highlight and engage the common section found in each of the books called “Canonical Contribution.” Doing so will not only provide you a goodly glimpse into how Davids engages his subject, it’s also informing and insightful!
New Releases Today—Studies on the Go for Youth Workers
A new series for youth workers and small group leaders launched today, Studies on the Go, with two new volumes.
The purpose of the series is to give small group leaders ready-made, creative, and engaging Bible studies that will challenge people to think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives. It also provides small group leaders with creative and engaging Bible study questions. Here’s a quick overview:
1) JAMES, 1-2 PETER, and 1-3 JOHN
Without skimping on depth and substance, author David Olshine has designed James, 1 & 2 Peter, and 1-3 John for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study. Olshine has also constructed down-to-earth questions that get kids into the text and so they can hear God’s Word on a practical level. Author David Olshine is a…
Craig Blomberg: “Not Many of You Should Become Teachers?”
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 TNIV).
An old line I first heard in a college education class claims that if a person can’t do anything else, at least they can teach. And if they don’t have any specific subject they can teach, they can at least teach teachers! Growing up in a family of public school teachers, I knew that to be profoundly untrue, but it obviously reflected one segment of our culture’s perception of the teaching field, perhaps fueled by personal experiences with bad teachers.
Top Seven Scholarly Books (Not Commentaries) on James* by Craig L. Blomberg
*So Far This Decade!
Commentaries on biblical books usually get a lot more attention than other works, especially more scholarly ones. Having just finished co-authoring James in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, it is interesting to think back and reflect on the best of the English-language book-length "non-commentaries" that we encountered. Since seven is the number for completeness throughout the Bible, it sounds like a good number for this blog post, too. But let’s make it fun and go in reverse order, like David Letterman in his top tens!
Number 7 on my list is Luke L. Cheung, The Genre, Composition and Hermeneutics of James (Carlisle, UK and Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2003). It is the best and most thorough of a growing set of studies arguing for the theme of perfection, wholeheartedness or single-mindedness as the central theme of the letter. Cheung also makes helpful observations about the outline of the book and its background in Wisdom literature.