James

James

James

James

Excerpt

James has had a stormy and uncertain history in the Christian church. It had a difficult time getting into the New Testament canon, achieving canonical status in the Greek church in the fourth century, the Latin church in the fifth century, and the Syrian church only in the eighth century. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1546), which officially fixed many post-Reformation Roman Catholic doctrines, listed James among the deutero-canonical writings of the New Testament, that is, those that were accepted only gradually by the church. Luther’s judgment on it as “an epistle of straw” is often quoted. He took this position because it does not clearly teach salvation by grace. His somewhat more favorable comment later, however, in the preface to his commentary on James should also be noted: “I think highly of James and regard it as valuable, although it was rejected in early days. … I do not consider it to be apostolic.” Luther would consider only those New Testament writings apostolic which clearly and explicitly preach Jesus Christ and the salvation which is found in him.

1. Literary Form

The title given to this writing in the earliest Greek manuscripts (ca A.D. 350) is “The Epistle of James.” The only indication in the book itself that it is an epistle or letter is the first . . .

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