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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Date and Place of Composition.

1.

If the letter is pseudepi-graphic it must have been written after the death of James in 61 CE or more probably after the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of its Jewish Christian community in 70 CE. Then parallels to such writings as 1 Peter, 1 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas are to be taken as signs of common socio-economic problems in Christian communities at the turn of the first to the second century (Frankemölle 1994 ). Under the pseudepigraphy hypothesis the letter could have been composed almost anywhere in the Roman world where Greek-speaking Christians were living, but some prefer Syria (Konradt 1998 ).

2.

At the present time the authenticity hypothesis is gaining new defenders (Stulac 1993; Johnson 1995; Bauckham 1999 ), according to whom the letter was written from Jerusalem, where James resided, either before or after the Apostolic Council of 48 CE. Following earlier voices (Zahn 1906: 125–8; Mayor 1913 ) it is argued by some that the letter should be dated early (Moo 1985: 33–5; Penner 1996: 276–7). It could have been addressed to dispersed Jewish Christians (cf. Acts 8:1–3 ) between Alexandria, Antioch, and Cilicia (Geyser 1975 ) when rumours were heard that in circles of the Greek-speaking ‘Hellenists’ (Acts 6–7 ), to whom Paul later belonged (Acts 11:19–26; 13:1 ), obedience to God was rendered superfluous by faith. There are some striking parallels with 1 Cor 1–4 . Could both James and Paul be reacting against Jewish Christians with former ties to Essene, Therapeut, and Baptist circles (1 Cor 1:12; 3:4–6; cf. Acts 18:24 )? The instigators of the persecution seem to be the rich and politically influential ( 2:6–7 ). This fits better the time until the middle of the 40s (Riesner 1998a : 108–36), when the Jewish Christians were oppressed by the Sadducean oligarchy (Maynard-Reid 1987 ) and Jewish kings such as Agrippa I (Acts 3–9; 12 ). After the second half of the 40s persecution was instigated rather by Zealot movements (cf. Acts 15:1; 23:12–22 ).

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