Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Intro - The Nuts and Bolts

James with Jimmy in July has begun!

Here is a brief introduction to the book.  Enjoy!

1. Before we get too far, we need to ask ourselves "who is James?"  Now there a lot of James's running around in the New Testament.  James son of Zebedee, James son of Alphaeus, and James the Lord's brother.  Traditionally, James the Lord's brother was viewed as the author.  This probably is not the case, though, because it is hard to imagine a peasant from Galilee with the Greek language skills needed to pen this letter.  Essentially, we don't know who exactly wrote the book.  Don't fret!  Even though we do not know the identity of the author, we trust that the author was inspired by the Holy Spirit and wrote this letter for the benefit of the Christian community (that's me and you!).

2. Along those same lines, James is addressed to "the twelve tribes in the Dispersion" (1:1).  Now the twelve tribes of Israel, as they are described in the Old Testament, had ceased to exist by this time.  The author most likely envisioned the Church as the continuing community of Israel.  In other words, he saw no distinction between Israel and the Church.  So by addressing the letter in this way, he is really addressing us, the community of Jesus followers.

3. James is unlike any other book in the New Testament.  If we were to classify its genre, we would probably say it is "Christian wisdom literature."  Rather than having an overarching story or narrative - or even one continuous stream of thought! - James is composed of a series of ethical and moral exhortations.  (See also the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 - 7).

Don't hesitate to post a question or a comment on this material!

The first lesson from James, Faith and Works, will come up in the next blog post.

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