« ElőzőTovább »
the Lord's brother, because he was the son of Mary the sister of our Lord's mother.
That this epistle was anciently esteemed a part of the sacred Canon, we learn from Eusebius, whose words I will recite. E. H. lib. 3. c. 25 : “ Here it will be proper to enumerate, in a “ summary way, the books of the New Testament, which have “ been already mentioned. And, in the first place, are to be “ ranked the four sacred gospels; then the book of the Acts of “the Apostles ; after that are to be reckoned the Epistles of " Paul; in the next place, that called the First Epistle of John, " and the first of Peter; after these is to be placed, if it be “ thought fit, the Revelation of John, the opinions of the ancients “ concerning which we shall in due season explain. Now these “ are among the acknowledged books. Among the contradicted, “ but yet well known to many," or approved by many,“ are that “ called the Epistle of James, and that of Jude, and the second of “ Peter, and the second and third of John whether they were “ actually composed by the Evangelist, or by another of the same “ name.” From this passage it appears, that in the beginning of the fourth century, the seven epistles called Catholic were well known, and received by many, though some of them were not received by all. Farther, the same author (E. H. lib. 2. c. 23.) writes as follows: “ Thus far concerning James, the writer of “ the first epistle called Catholic. But it ought to be observed, " that, vo-Jevitali, it is thought spurious.” By which Eusebius does not mean that it was in his time thought a forged writing, but that it had not been universally received by the church, as is evident from the reason which he subjoins : “ For as much as . there are not many of the ancient writers who have quoted it, *(as neither that called Jude's, another of the epistles named " Catholic. However, we know, that these also are commonly o used," that is, publicly read, “ in most churches with the rest." From this passage it appears, that notwithstanding the epistle of James was doubted of by some, and not often quoted by the ancients, it was in Eusebius's days generally received, and publicly read in the churches of Christ.
That the epistle of James was early esteemed an inspired writing, is evident from the following fact: That, while the second epistle of Peter, the second and third of John, the cpistle of Jude, and the Revelation, are omitted in the first Syriac translation of the New Testament, which was made in the beginning
of the second century for the use of the converted Jews, the epistle of James hath found a place therein, equally with the books which were never called in question. This is an argument of great weight. For certainly the Jewish believers, to whom that epistle was addressed and delivered, were much better judges of its authenticity, than the converted Gentiles, to whom it was not sent, and who, perhaps, had no opportunity of being acquainted with it till long after it was written. Wherefore, its being received by the Jewish believers, is an undeniable proof that they knew it to be written by James the apostle. Whereas the ignorance of the Gentile believers concerning this epistle, is not even a presumption against its authenticity.
That the converted Gentiles had little knowledge of the epistle of James in the first ages, may have been owing to various causes; such as, That it was addressed to the Jews, and that the matters contained in it were personal to the Jews. For on these accounts, the Jewish believers may have thought it not necessary to communicate it to the Gentiles. And when it was made known to them, they may have scrupled to receive it as an inspired writing, for the following reasons : 1. The writer does not in the inscription take the title of an apostle, but calls himself simply, James a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.2. Many of the ancients, by calling the writer of this epistle James the Just, have rendered his apostleship doubtful.-3. As they have done likewise, by speaking of him commonly as Bishop of Jerusalem, and not as an apostle of Christ.-It is little wonder, therefore, that this epistle was not generally received by the converted Gentiles; consequently that it was not often quoted by them in their writings. But afterwards, when it was considered that this epistle was from the beginning received by the Jewish believers, and that it was translated into the Syriac language for their use ; and that Paul, though an apostle, sometimes contented himself with the appellation of a servant of Christ, Philip. i. 1. Philem. ver.' 1. and sometimes took no appellation but his own name, 1 Thess. i. 1. 2 Thess. i. 1. and that the apostle John did not in any of his epistles call himself an apostle, the title which the author of the epistle of James had to be an apostle was no longer doubted, but he was generally acknowledged to be James the son of Alpheus, and the Lord's brother; and his epistle, after an accurate examination, (sce Preface to 2 Peter, sect. 1. paragr. 2.) was received into the canon as an inspired writing. So Estius tells us, who affirms, that after the fourth century no church, nor ecclesi
astical writer is found, who ever doubted of the authority of this epistle. But, on the contrary, all the catalogues of the books of scripture, published, whether by general or provincial councils, or by Roman Bishops, or other orthodox writers since the fourth century, constantly number it among the Canonical scriptures. See Whitby's Preface.
With respect to what is remarked by Eusebius, that there are not many ancient writers who have quoted the epistle James, learned men have observed, that Clement of Rome hath quoted it four several times. And so does Ignatius in his genuine epistle to the Ephesians, Sect. 10. 12. 17. 30. And Origen in his 13th Homily on Genesis, sect 5. That it was not more generally quoted by the ancients, besides the things already mentioned, may have been owing to the following reasons : 1. Being written to the whole Jewish nation, to correct the errors and vices which prevailed among them, the Gentiles may have thought themselves little concerned with it, and may have been at no pains to procure copies of it. By which means it was not at first so generally known among them as some other books of scripture.-2. The seeming opposition of the doctrine in this epistle, to the doctrine of Paul concerning justification by faith without works of law, may have occasioned it to be less regarded by the most ancient writers; just as in later times, it was on the same account rejected by Luther, who to show his contempt of it, called it (epistola straminca) a strawy or chaffy epistle.
To conclude, the authority of the epistle of James as an inspired writing, is abundantly established, in Mill's opinion, by the apostles Paul and Peter, who have in their writings many sentiments and expressions similar to those contained in this epistle. For example :
1 Pet. i. 1. Who hath begot- James i. 18. Having willed ten us again to a living hope, it, he hath begotten us by the through the resurrection of Jesus word. Christ.
Rom. v. 3. Knowing that af- James i. 3. Knowing, that the fliction worketh out patience, and firoving of your faith worketh out patience experience.
patience. Rom. ii. 13. Not the hearers James i. 22. And be ye doers of the law are just bufore God, of the law, and not hearers only, but the doers of the law shall be deceiving yourselves by false reajustified.
Rom. vii. 23. I see another James iv. 1. Come they not law in my members, warring hence, even from your lusts, against the law of my mind. which war in your members.
1 Pet. ii. 11. Lusts which war against the soul.
1 Pet. v. 8. Your adversary James iv. 7. Resist the devil, the devil : 9. whom resist sted and he will flee from you. fast in the faith.
1 Pet. v. 6. Be humbled un. James iv. 10. Be humbled in der the mighty hand of God, that the presence of God, and he will he may exalt you.
lift you up. Rom. iv. 4. Who art thou James iv. 12. Thou, who art that condemnest another man's thou that condemnest another ? household servant ?
1 Pet. iv. 8. Love covereth a James v. 20. Will cover a multitude of sins.
multitude of sins.
SECTION III. Of the Persons to whom the Epistle of James was addressed :-Ofthe Time
and Place where it was written and delivered : ----And of the Death of James.
I. Beza thought the epistle of James was written to the believing Jews dispersed all over the world. This likewise was the opinion of Cave and Fabricius. Grotius says, it was written to all the people of Israel living out of Judea ; in which he is followed by Wall. But Lardner, with more probability, thinks it was written to the whole Jewish nation in Judea and out of it, whether believers or not. This opinion he builds on the inscription of the epistle, which runs thus : James a servant of God, and of Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes, that is, to the whole Jew. ish nation, in whatever part of the world they were living. For no description of that people can be more comprehensive than the twelve tribes ; and though it be added, who are in the dispersion, the expression, he thinks, includes the Jews living in Judea, who since the Romans subdued them, might be considered as dispersed even in Judea itself. Or, if this sense of the expression is not admitted, it can imply no more, but that the apostle's letter was chiefly intended for the Jews in foreign countries ; consequently, it does not exclude the Jews in Judea, who were the writer's peculiar charge ; and to whom, as shall be shewed immediately, some things in the epistle more especially belong.
Next, that this epistle was designed for the unconverted as well as the converted Jews, is plain from this, that the apostle did not, in the beginning of it, wish the twelve tribes grace and peace from Jesus Christ, but gave them only a general salutation, or wish of health ; neither did he conclude his letter with any christian benediction, as he would have done if the whole of his letter had been intended for believers. Farther, that this epistle was designed in part for the unbelieving Jews, appears from some passages which belong more particularly to them. For example, chap. iv. 1.-10. where the writer speaks of wars and fightings among them, in which, being actuated by their lusts, they killed one another. These things could not be said of the believing Jews, but must be understood of the mutinies and insurrections which the unbelievers, especially the Zealots, raised both in Judea and in the provinces, and which brought on the war with the Romans ; also chap. v. 1.-5. where James describes the miseries which were coming on the persons to whom he writes, and which fell heaviest on the unbelieving Jews in Judea; and mentions their condemning the just one, who did not resist them, and insinuates that these miseries were coming on them for that crime. Lastly, the whole of the third chapter, in Whitby's opinion, may have been intended for the unbelieving, as well as the believing Jews, the name of brethren being applicable to both, when used by a writer of their own nation.
II. With respect to the date of this epistle, they who think it was written by James the son of Alpheus, fix it to the year 62; because the wars and insurrections, which ended in the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth, are reproved in it, and the coming of Christ to destroy Jerusalem, and break the power of the unbelieving part of the nation, is said, chap. v. 8. to be near. Later than that year the epistle of James cannot be dated, if the opinion of Theodoret be admitted, who tells us, that what is said in the epistle to the Hebrews, which was written in the end of the year 62, or the beginning of the year 63, refers, among others, to the martyrdom of James the Just, chap. xiii. 7. Remember your rulers, who have spoken to you the word of God; and attentively considering the ending of their conversation, imitate their faith.
Josephus, the Jewish historian, is supposed to have spoken of the death of James the Just in the following passage : “ Ananus “ the younger, who had just before been nominated High Priest,