reply to post by Anthony2
Yep, here we are;
As already observed, the wording of James’ teaching, that Abraham was justified by his works, is diametrically opposed to the wording of Paul’s
teaching, that Abraham was justified by his Faith.
On my previous assumption, based on the use of quotations, that James was the later writer, does this mean that James’ argument was consciously
directed against Paul’s teaching?
I’ve argued that the two teachings may be closer in essence than they look; I’m sure that the Paul who rebuked the sinful Corinthians and taught
the Galatians about the need to “walk by the Spirit” would not really have objected to the demand for Christian Faith to be expressed in
But this does not preclude the possibility that James thought
he was arguing with Paul.
Anyone who thinks that Paul would have been content with a merely verbal expression of Faith is misunderstanding Paul’s teaching.
One possibility is that James himself was making this mistake, and was conducting his argument accordingly.
Another is that Paul’s teaching was being distorted by over-enthusiastic disciples, who were taking Paul’s ideas in a much more antinomian
direction than he would have intended.
That’s a very plausible conjecture, given the later history of these controversies.
James would then be arguing against this distorted teaching, and amending the language of Paul’s formula, because he thought that Paul’s
terminology was encouraging the misunderstanding.
It seems to me that this argument continues into the following chapter.
In the first part of ch.3, James is rebuking habits of intemperate speech.
When I was considering that chapter, I came to the conclusion that this was mainly directed at the problem of intemperate theological controversy.
I suggested that the dogmatic “Faith-alone” teachers that he was criticising in ch2 were the same people who were teaching over-confidently and
aggressively in ch3, and using violent language against their opponents to the extent of cursing them.
Once again, this seems only too plausible, given the history of later controversies on the subject.
The pattern of the middle of James letter would then be as follows;
In the second half of ch.2, he criticises the theory
of the Faith-alone dogmatists.
The first half of ch.3 is diverted into a criticism of the verbal behaviour of the same people.
Then, at the end of ch3, he returns to putting them right on the theory. This takes the form of offering a better alternative to “verbal Faith”,
namely the teaching about following the guidance of “the Wisdom from above”.