Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Bound, James Bound: Did James Really Teach Justification By Works?

Bound, James Bound: Did James Really Teach Justification By Works?

Ratings: (0)|Views: 172|Likes:
Published by Jonathan Eric Lewis
This is adapted from an exegetical paper I wrote on James 2:18-26.
This is adapted from an exegetical paper I wrote on James 2:18-26.

More info:

Published by: Jonathan Eric Lewis on Jul 03, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

05/13/2014

 
 
BOUND, JAMES BOUND: DID JAMES REALLY TEACH JUSTIFICATION
BY WORKS?”
 AN EXEGETICAL PAPERof James 2:18
 – 
26I
NTRODUCTION
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 01T
HE
E
XEGETICAL PROBLEM IN
J
AMES
2:18-26
 
-------------------------------------------------
 
02T
HE
H
ISTORICAL
C
ULTURAL
B
ACKGROUND OF
J
AMES
2:18-26
 
------------------------------
 
02
 
P
URPOSE
(02)
 
A
UTHOR
(04)
 
D
ATE
(05)A
N
E
XEGESIS OF
J
AMES
2:18-26
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------
 
08
 
T
EXT
-C
RITICAL
I
SSUES
(08)
 
L
ITERARY
C
ONTEXT
(09)
 
H
ANDLING THE
T
EXT
(10)C
ONCLUSION
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13B
IBLIOGRAPHY
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 14
 Appendix A: Block Diagram
--------------------------------------------------------------------- 15
 
1
I
NTRODUCTION
 
“Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James as does Melanchthon in his Apology, butin vain,” spoke
the great reformer, Martin Luther, to his mealtime companions. He was clearly
frustrated over the troubling exegetical issue, ““Faith justifies” and “Faith does not justify”
contradict each other flatly. If anyone can harmonize them I will give him my
doctor‟s hood andlet him call me a fool.”
1
Dr. Luther is certainly not the only Christian who ever wrestled with theshort epistle of James and particularly with the somewhat uncouth presentation of justificationpresented in that letter. From the very outset James stood on shaky ground, struggling to gainfull acceptance by the believing community.
2
Even today the debate continues.A discussion of the full range of complaints against the letter goes well beyond the
 present purpose; however, the shrill note of discord many hear in James‟ theology plays no small
part in the trouble. A quintessential representative passage, James 2:18-26, seems to overtlyteach justification by works
 – 
poor Luther!
 – 
and denies the efficacy of simple faith for eternalsalvation.
“Even the demons believe,”
3
(2:19) pens James almost in ridicule of the notion of faith alone. If there is to be any fellowship then between James and Paul, if there is to be anyreconciliation between grace and works, the exegete must take up his many tools and mine this
1
Preserved Smith,
The Life And Letters Of Martin Luther 
, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1911), p. 269.Luther made many other disparaging remarks about James as well. In his Preface to the New Testament (1522), heconcluded that compared with other parts of the NT, James
is really an epistle of straw
”, since, in his estima
tion, itlacks in strong Gospel content
. A note in the margin of Luther‟s Bible at James 1:6, reportedly read, “This is theonly good place in the whole epistle.” For all that however, the
reformer admitted that James should not beforbidden since there
are “
otherwise many good sayings in him
.”
 
2
Douglas J. Moo,
The Letter of James
(Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. EerdmansPublishing Co., Kindle Edition, 2000), Kindle Locations 133-42. Eusebius, for instance, could not bring himself togrant the epistle full endorsement, and thus awarded it only the status of a disputed book. In fact, it was not until thecusp of the fifth century that Jerome broke a church wide stalemate regarding its canonical place, by including it inhis Vulgate. When Augustine eventually followed suit the battle for James on the canonical level came to an end.
3
Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture quotations in this exegesis are taken from the New English Translation.
 
2
deep vein of God‟s Word
, seeking to discover whether there is indeed housed here a treasuretrove of pure spiritual gold.
T
HE
E
XEGETICAL
P
ROBLEM IN
J
AMES
2:18-26
It will be seen that the Epistle of James is highly pragmatic, yet for all his practical talk,the writer certainly made some provocative statements. Consider this breakdown of the nine-verse passage of 2:18-26. Three times the writer uses the controversial
 phrase „justified byworks‟. He applies it to Abraham (2:21), claims it for Rahab
(2:25), and even demands it of allhumanity (2:24). Twice
 – 
(three times if one counts the entire chapter)
 – 
he claims theuselessness of faith apart from the energizing factor of works (2:20, 26). One time, as notedabove, he even claims that faith alone is nothing less than demonic (2:19)! Viewing the passageas a coherent whole does not automatically make the view any nicer either: essentially Jamesproposes a straw-man argument in which an objector claims justification by faith (2:18), only tohave his notion quickly a
nd thoroughly demolished by the writer‟
s intense ideology.
4
All of thisstands in tight tension against Galatians, Romans, and indeed large swaths of the New Testamentin which the Gospel message is one of a restful, dependence upon the finished work of Christ.
5
 
T
HE
H
ISTORICAL
C
ULTURAL
B
ACKGROUND OF
J
AMES
2:18-26
Purpose.
 
In 1954, the feature film “Godzilla” hit the big screen, destined to become a
cult classic with international acclaim. Yet at its release, critics were quite less than enamored.
6
 
4
Verses 22 and 23, the only two individual verses from 2:18-26 untouched by this treatment, each offers its owncontroversial perspective. Verse 22 indicaes that works are the superior of the two facets, since it is works thatperfect faith. Verse 23 applies Genesis 15:6 to
 justification by works
, whereas Paul in Romans 4:9 cites the verysame OT Scripture as an example of justification by faith.
5
 
Jesus himself explicitly taught that “[t]
his is the deed [Gk: ergon, the very same word James uses] God requires
 – 
 to believe in the one whom he sent
(John 6:29).
6
 
See David Bell‟s online article, “10 Classic Movies that Critics Hated,” at

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->