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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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A Letter of James - Introduction

This writer is concerned to rescue sinners from their “erring ways” ( 5.20 ) by providing a manual for Christian conduct. Many topics are handled in fairly miscellaneous fashion, although four points receive more sustained attention: the evil of showing partiality ( 2.1–12 ), the need for works along with faith ( 2.14–26 ), the danger of loose talk ( 3.1–12 ), and the sins of the rich ( 4.13–5.6 ). This manual has been sent out to the church as a whole, and its purpose is completely practical. Doctrinal matters are not taken up, and the content of the moral advice does not reveal much about the author's own theological point of view. Most of the teaching is common to other Hellenistic Wisdom literature of the day.

If the writing is indeed from James, the Lord's brother (see 1.1 n. ), a date no later than about 60 C.E. is required. However, because the ritual and cultic concerns attributed to James elsewhere (see Gal. 2.12 ) are absent and because the overall cast is so Hellenistic, many scholars question the traditional view of authorship. Some have held that the tract is of Jewish origin, subsequently lightly Christianized. More often, it is ascribed to a Christian writer of the late first or early second century. There is no consensus as to the place of writing.

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