Steeping in James – Intro and Background

Welcome to Week 1 of Steeping in James. This week Meg and I focused primarily on gaining an introduction to the Book (Letter) of James as well as background information. We also looked at James 1:1. The following are some things I gathered and made note of in my study and hence made the discussion between Meg and I. I largely relied on Carson and Moo’s on An Introduction to the New Testament for the information gathered here.

  • The Letter of James can seem like an un-orderly collection of spewage.
  • Luther described it as “throwing things together…chaotically.”
  • Authorship
    • There are four candidates typically considered as to who wrote the Letter of James:
      • James the son of Zebedee, brother of John, one of the twelve.
      • James the son of Alphaeus, also one of the twelve.
      • James the father of Judas.
      • James the brother of Jesus – whom plays a leading role in the Jerusalem church.
    • The most likely of all of these is #4, James the brother of Jesus. Carson and Moo do a nice job of laying out the foundations supporting this position.
  • Date
    • The Letter of James was likely written from Jerusalem while James was leading the Christian church there.
    • Carson and Moo argue for a dating in the 40s – between Paul’s conversion (AD 33) and the Jerusalem Council (AD 48-49).
    • There argument here seems to revolve around saying that James has not yet met Paul and hence it must have occurred before the Jerusalem Council.
  • Original Recipients
    • The original recipients of the letter would have been Jewish Christians.
    • Perhaps James is trying to communicate with those who have scattered from Jerusalem due to persecution (see Acts 11:19).
  • Genre
    • James is categorized as a “general epistle” which simply means that it is a letter written to someone (or group of someones) other than a particular church. Other general epistles in the New Testament include Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude.
    • Some classify James as wisdom literature.
    • Carson and Moo call it a homily or a series of homilies put into a letter in order to address Christians at a distance from their “pastor.”
  • 1:1
    • As James opens his letter, we see him open in a way very similar to how Paul opens some of his letters, specifically as a “servant” or “bond servant” of Christ (compare James 1:1 to Romans 1:1).

There wasn’t a lot of deep discussion this week and no real application questions, but this week was crucial for us to understand the context of the letter.  Next week we’ll look at 1:2-18 and take up the topic of steadfastness.


~ by toddbumgarner on August 19, 2008 5:34 am.

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