Dec 8, 2009
James, Acts, and Canon
In a recent essay, Robert Wall examines the theology of the Catholic Epistles (James-Jude = CE) from the perpective of Canon. Wall makes a number of interesting points, two of which I find particularly interesting.
(1) Wall argues that James' placement first in the collection provides the basic sequence of themes that provide the "constitutive predicates of a unifying theology of the CE collection" (30).
(2) Wall suggests that, "During the canonical process, Acts came to supply a narrative introduction for the entire epistolary canon, Pauline and Catholic; in fact, from a canonical perspective, the relationship between Acts and the CE is elevated in importance because they “came into life” together during the canonical process. In any case, the interpreter approaches the New Testament letters with the orienting concerns of Acts in mind and in light of its story, more wakeful when negotiating between the New Testament two different epistolary corpora as theological complements" (23).
Robert W. Wall, "A Unifying Theology of the Catholic Epistles: A Canonical Approach," in The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition: A New Perspective on James and Jude, ed. Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall (Waco, TX Baylor University Press, 2009), 13-40.