This will be my last post mounting the case that the brother of Jesus, James, did not write the letter of James.  Here I get into some of the most substantive issues: what does this author consider to be the most important aspects of his Christian faith, and how does this stack up against what we know otherwise of James of Jerusalem?  And are there indications that in fact he is addressing issues that simply do not appear relevant to Christianity in its earliest stages?


In light of the previous post, it is interesting to notice which sins and failures occupy the author of the letter of James (given the dominant interest of James of Jerusalem, so far as we can know, on the importance of strict Torah observance).  They are by and large not explicit violations of the Torah but moral shortcomings such as showing favoritism, not controlling one’s speech, and failing to help those in need.  So too, what is “true religion” for this author?  It has little to do with specific requirements of the Torah per se.  It involves “bridling” the tongue and “visiting orphans and widows in their affliction” (1:26-27).  It also involves “keeping unstained from the world,” which would seem to open up the door for a discussion of cultural separatism.  But instead of detailing the importance of maintaining Jewish identity in light of “the world’s” staining influence, the author speaks only of upright moral behavior.  Again, this is not an “unJewish” concern; it simply is not the concern attested otherwise for James of Jerusalem.  This author speaks of “fulfilling the entire Law” but says not a word about Sabbath, circumcision, purification laws, kashrut, or festivals.[1]

Further indications that the letter is not written by James are given by the intimations that it was written at a relatively late date within the development of early Christianity, after James had died, presumably sometime in the 60’s.  For one thing, the debate over whether….

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