Dec 12, 2009

The Theology of James

"The theological importance and hermeneutical potential of the letter can best be developed by hearing it and taking it seriously as a message from James, the Lord’s brother, to the people of God living in the Dispersion. This insight is accompanied by the recognition that the theological nature and aim of letter can be derived neither from its relation to Paul and his letters nor from a historical origin hypothetically reconstructed and attributed to any “Christianity of the second of third generation” (which in former times used to be called early Catholicism, horrible dictu). Instead, it should be accepted as a theological position of its own value, derived from the characteristic connection of faith with life. In this context, the letter opening 1:12/13–25, and not the subsection 2:14–26, is of decisive importance. This basic statement of the theology of the letter, seen in connection with the prescript, leaves no doubt that the connection of faith and work to which the author is admonishing his addressees has received its fundamental stimulus from Jesus and is based in the Christ event."

Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr, “James in the Minds of the Recipients: A Letter from Jersusalem,” 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), 49.

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