The Epistle of James and the First Epistle of John
The Epistle of James
Introduction. Scholars have proposed dozens of disparate solutions to the most basic questions regarding the epistle of James (Edgar, 2001). It is indeed difficult to assess genre, audience, message, purpose, and social, historical and cultural setting of this epistle. This is specially so when faced with the challenge of dating this book; though out of scope for this essay, we must at least acknowledge that opinions ranging from mid 30s (Hodges, 2015) to mid second century (Allison, 2015) must be taken into consideration.
Popular views that see James as mere wisdom literature (Bauckham, 1999, as cited in Baker, 2002), as paraenesis (Dibelius, 1976 as cited in Moo, 2015), or as diatribe (Ropes, 1916 as cited in Edgar, 2001), and generally lacking logical structure, have been challenged in the past few decades (Jackson-McCabe, 2003; Reiher, 2013; Moo, 2015). James cannot be taken as a discourse in a vacuum without neglecting the socio-historical background and impacting our understanding of message and purpose. However, Moo’s (2015) suggestion that James is a homily then transcribed in epistolary form allows to retain both exhortation and wisdom characteristics, now underpinned by a historical setting providing us with occasion, motive, audience, and social situation, and thus shedding new light on the message.