From:  A Torah Commentary on James 1-2                         Return to Home        

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.                               © 2014




[Page 76]  





Introduction 2:




            The writer of this epistle identifies himself as a “James” who is “a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1).  The only other data comes from his speaking of “we” who are “teachers” (3:1), which may suggest that he defines his position of authority in terms of being a faithful and reliable teacher of God’s will[1] rather than in terms of being an apostle or even kinsman of Jesus (see below).  On the other hand, the “we” may be the kind of accommodative “we” a person often inserts into a sermon so the audience will know it applies not just to the audience but to the speaker as well. 

            In its lack of elaboration, the vagueness of description has been a thorn in the flesh to generations of scholars and commentators.  Yet in its very brevity it sets up the implicit claim to be a well known James[2] and an authoritative James.  “An unknown man without a history” can not be the author claimed by the epistle; it has to be a James who was in a position and place to be regarded as automatically authoritative.[3] 

            Virtually no one seems to challenge the notion that this is the same James as mentioned in Galatians 2,

[Page 77]

11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.


            Whether these men carried a legitimate message from James or not, their ability to successfully invoke his prestige (= authoritativeness) was sufficient to drive Peter to reverse his recent behavior in Antioch.[4]  However much later Roman Catholic tradition elevated Peter to far above anything God ever made him--or which he ever claimed to be--no one is going to question that he was in the handful of most prestigious and influential apostles.  And due to the successful invocation of James’ supposed position he reversed policy. 

To us James seems a virtual nobody, but in his day he was so influential that he got a leading apostle to change his public behavior!  When he wrote or taught—or seemed to have—people listened.  His words and views carried immense clout within the believing community.  Who then was this mysterious (to us) figure of James?




The James of Jerusalem Scenario of Authorship


The kinsman of Jesus identification. A common belief is that the James is the brother of Jesus, the James of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).  The meaning of the term [Page 78]   “brother” as applied to him (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55; etc.) has been interpreted in several fashions:  in the literal sense as that of a younger brother, borne by Mary, in the sense of an older step brother (both Jesus and James sharing the same father—Joseph--but not the same mother), and in the broader sense of a “cousin.”[5]  Although a fascinating issue in its own right, a consideration of the options would carry us too far afield.[6] 

Regardless of the exact relationship, it is generally assumed that he is identical with the James of the Jerusalem Council that debated the relationship of the Jewish law to Gentile converts.  If this identification is correct, he became an extremely important individual in the Jerusalem church though we have no idea what formal position (if any) that he actually occupied.[7] 

What is often forgotten is that the authority of prestige and respect does not have to carry with it the connotation of holding a higher official post.  If the surrounding Roman world had its “status rankings”—in which great influence did not have to correlate with holding an official position—why would it be surprising if the church acted similarly?  What higher status than physical brother of the Lord was anyone likely to ever have?  It would surely automatically bring a degree of deference that would not be given to others.


Possible echoes between the life of the James of Acts 15 and Galatians 2 and the teaching of the epistle.  There were four brothers of Jesus and at least two sisters.  Mark 6:3 provides the names of the males but simply lumps the females together simply as “sisters” in the plural.  Hence, whether these are literal biological kin of Joseph via Mary or not, the family group consisted of at least six children plus Jesus. 

[Page 79]                    Assuming that Joseph died while they were still minors, that meant a family of seven were trying to make do without an adult male in a society and time when the resources to help them were minimal.  Could the emphasis in James 1:26-27 on helping widows in their distress grow out of any better societal background than this, the testing by fire of personal experience?[8]           

We see James at work at the Jerusalem conference laying down a platform for Gentiles (Acts 15:23-29) that is adequate to satisfy those traditionalists stringently embracing observance of the law of Moses.  Yet it also one assuring the least open grounds for conflicts between Jewish and Gentile believers by demanding only a few fundamentals of the latter:  (1) no idolatry, (2) no consumption of blood, (3) no consumption of food from strangled animals, and (4) no sexual misbehavior.  Much more than this, it would have sounded as if they were trying to transform Gentiles into Jews; much less, and basic Jewish sensibilities would have been ignored.

Does this not sound like the James of the epistle, calling for control of what one says and avoiding inflaming situations between brethren?  If the same James who wrote those pleas was not behind this agenda of reconciliation in the book of the same name, it was one who thought extraordinarily like him.[9] 

If one accepts the common portrait of this James as an extremely Torah observant Jew—and hence the personal example that inspired the protestors mentioned by Paul in Galatians—this case clearly shows that in actual practice he attempted to “cut slack” for others even if he himself would not--or simply preferred not--to do certain things himself. 

[Page 80]                    In short, a peacemaker in the image of the desirable Christian painted in the book of James.  And one whose preferences were being markedly twisted out of shape in Galatians 2 to justify a more extreme approach than his own.


Right name and city but wrong James?  The option is far from unknown to make James of Jerusalem not another name for James the brother of the Lord but a separate individual entirely.  The old adage about “not multiplying hypotheses unnecessarily” surely applies here. 

Certainly, there could have been such a third party—the name “James” was common in Jewish society of that era.[10]  But to rule out two obvious choices—blood relationship or apostle—in order to conjecture someone without either background, seemingly coming out of nowhere, to become de facto leader in the Jerusalem church . . . and to have written this letter . . . does seem an incredible “reach.”  He did so without leaving a shadow of substance for us to work with to establish his identity it seems.  Isn’t this simply pushing conjecture too far? 


Nomenclature for the brother of Jesus in Jerusalem:  James the Just / James the Essene?  James of Jerusalem is highly appropriate because this is where he did his work.  However the traditional terminology has typically been “James the Just.”  Unquestionably this goes far back.  Hegesippus (life:  c. 110-180; writing: c. 165-175) is quoted by Eusebius as saying that the honorific dated back to James’ own life:  “whom everyone from the Lord’s time till our own has named the Just, for there were many Jameses.”[11]

[Page 81]                    “Just” is normally taken in the sense of “righteous”—a name which would argue for moral excellence of an extraordinary degree.  Yet if we take “just” in the sense of being just toward others and demanding of all just behavior, we could see from the surviving record how that use of the term would be justified as well:  note his unwillingness to bind circumcision on non-Jews (in the book of Acts) and his stern demand for just treatment of others in the book of James. 

Hence any the moral and religious overtones of being “righteous” would seemingly grow out of his demands concerning proper behavior in general rather than obedience to the ceremonial demands of the Mosaical system in particular—which many think was pivotal to him and which they define him in terms of.  However much that may or may not have been the case, we can clearly document his demand for proper and fair treatment of others—a principle of wide application both in Christian Jewish and Christian Gentile societies.  

Some have attempted to reinforce the argument for authorship by James the kinsman of Jesus (and a pre-fall of Jerusalem date) on the grounds that he was or had been an Essene.  Essene practice, however, was opposed to the picture of James in Josephus and the earliest surviving church tradition:  the Essenes practiced regular ritual washings while the tradition claims James opposed bath taking.[12]  Assuming that the tradition had any validity to begin with (and I am extremely skeptical) it would, at the most, argue for a conscious rejection of any Essene connections that might ever have existed.  Over-all, the effort to vindicate an Essene background appears to be part of that modern compulsion to “explain” Biblical writings and practices by attributing them to some other source.  Which, of course, even if valid--and rarely if ever is--would leave the dilemma of why and where did they originate it?    


[Page 82]                    Arguments against the brother of Jesus being the author of the book.  Several lines of argument have been developed to accomplish this goal:  

            (1)  The author does not make a claim to any physical relationship.[13]  Indeed, there is nothing in the text that would make one expect such a relationship to have existed.[14]  This has led some to conclude that the attribution was a later rationalization to justify accepting a non-apostolic book into the canon.[15]

            Furthermore, assuming that the James was an actual kinsman of the Lord, upon what grounds would one explain the lack of an explicit identification in the text?  2 Corinthians 5:16 has been read as indicating that a physical knowledge/relationship to Jesus was unimportant in the gospel age, which would encourage James to omit any mention of the relationship.[16]  The omission could also be accounted for on the ground that since he had initially rejected Jesus, that there was almost an incongruity in any explicit claiming of authority upon the basis of the physical relationship.

            On the other hand, being a close relationship gave him a greater opportunity to serve and be recognized than others would have had.  Flip that over, the close relationship also created the grave danger that more would be expected out of him because of that close relationship than he could ever live up to.  Hence he would have no reason to deny it, but no reason to go out of his way to stress it either.  Those who heard him or received letters from him, would already know the situation.  It would not need to be mentioned.


            (2)  The lack of clear cut, explicit personal references to the life of Jesus are pointed to, which is counted odd as coming from a literal kinsman of the Lord.[17]  On the other hand, how much of His ministry and teaching would we expect him to have personally observed?  As a nay-sayer, would we expect him to have observed much at all of the ministry?


[Page 83]                    (3)  The lack of explicit quotations from Jesus’ teaching may also be counted as odd if the writer was a literal kinsman.  The same situation explains this as the lack of biographical detail.  Since he had not followed Jesus during the ministry because of His lack of faith (John 7:5), he would have heard little of the teaching first hand.  Hence one might well expect vaguer allusions to His teachings, such as are found in the epistle, rather than direct quotation or citation of specific events.  He knew of them but was not in a position to speak of personal knowledge or in the detail that personal knowledge would have permitted.

            On the other hand, one must be careful not to over-emphasize James’ lack of information.  As James D. Yoder suggests, “We may reasonably assume that Jesus shared His understanding of Scripture with other members of the family in years prior to his public ministry.”[18]  Furthermore, even if he did not hear many of the individual parables and discourses, James was almost certainly familiar with Jesus’ attitudes and doctrines through interaction with Him on the family level.

            In addition, there are conceptual/doctrinal parallels between the teaching of James and Jesus which argue strongly that he was well acquainted with them even though he never explicitly quotes or cites them.[19]  (We examine these in detail in the next chapter.)


            (4)  Argumentation against the author of the book being the same James as in Acts 15 and Galatians.  (This is not quite the same thing as arguing against his kinship with Jesus.  It would, however, require us to choose between the James of the epistle and that of Acts 15/Galatians as the physical kin of the Lord.  The other one would be the apostle James—though, in all fairness, there were two such apostolic “Jameses”—one the son of Zebedee [the one assumed to be the most prominent in the New Testament], Matthew 4:21-22, and the one who was the son of Alphaeus, Matthew 10:3.)   

 [Page 84]                   It is argued that the picture of James in the New Testament is that of a strict Torah observer and that emphasis on this is missing in the epistle,[20] where the emphasis is on practical morality[21] rather than ritualism.  Messengers from James took the view that a Jew should not eat with a Gentile (Galatians 2:12 in context) and this has been taken as the view of James himself rather than just his messengers.[22]  Galatians 2 candidly presents Peter as temporarily embracing that approach until Paul pointed out the inconsistency.  Even assuming it was the stance of James, there is no particular reason to believe that James would have been less receptive to Paul’s reasoning than Peter once it was pointed out.

            Furthermore the ascetic, ritualistic James is an image certainly overdrawn by later commentators.  James is also pictured as not demanding that those of a different ethnic heritage than his observe the ritual demands--the Jerusalem Council, Acts 15.  Furthermore, he was certainly no foe of Paul and his Gentile mission (Acts 21:18-20).

When James urged Paul to undertake a cultic practice apparently common in the Temple, he specifically does so in order to dilute the suspicion of fellow Jews that Paul was telling ethnically Jewish Christians to abandon the rituals spoken of in the Pentateuch (Acts 21:20-26).  There is no demand that Gentile Christians follow them or any indication that James personally felt it was necessary on any doctrinal basis; it was simply a tactical maneuver to attempt to dissolve unjust criticism.  This and the fact that (in our judgement)  the letter was of a very early date--prior to the “Judaizer” controversies of Paul’s ministry--would explain the epistle’s stress on observance of law as an abstract issue rather than an emphasis on ritualism. 

            Furthermore the epistle, though it repeatedly exhibits traditional Jewish concerns and ways of thinking,[23] conspicuously omits those areas that would be stumbling blocks to Gentiles:  “circumcision, Sabbath observance, dietary and ritual purity laws, and temple worship, are absent in James.”[24]   Although one can theoretically account for this on the grounds that James took such for granted,[25] even that would require that he valued these as of lesser importance than those matters that he chooses to discuss.  Otherwise [Page 85]    they would have played a prominent role in his discussion as they did in so much of then contemporary Judaism.  On the other hand, the omission is also what one would anticipate in light of other New Testament epistles, which stress that these were things of the old religious order that were no longer obligatory.   



The James the Apostle Scenario of Authorship


            The second major possibility is that the James was James the apostle.  (Apostolic authorship claims seem to always go hand-in-hand with the assumption that this was the James who was the son of Zebedee rather than the one who was offspring of Alphaeus.)  This apostolic tie-in would explain the presence of so many apparent passing allusions to the teaching of Jesus being found in the letter.  (Proving they are such is not always so easy:  see the next chapter.)  The presence of so much is at a minimum unexpected (if not an outright oddity) when one works from the assumption that the author was a kinsman of the Lord who was not even a believer during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  He would not have heard the teaching in detail anywhere near as much as an apostle would have.

            The emphasis in the epistle on the evil of bickering and seeking for leadership, as well as the need for patience, would certainly be lessons the apostle James would have remembered well for the rebukes aimed at the apostles over such matters during the earthly ministry.  The description of Jesus as “Lord of glory” (2:1) could be an allusion to the Mount of Transfiguration; 2 Peter 1:16-18 speaks of Jesus receiving such “glory” upon that occasion.  Likewise there are some interesting conceptual parallels between James’ teaching and that Jesus gave on the Mount of Olives, which was only heard by the disciples.[26]

            The case certainly deserves more attention than it has traditionally been given, but concededly falls significantly short of clear proof.  Of course, the case for Jesus’ kinsman as author isn’t all that much stronger either except from the standpoint of the attribution being far more common in the “church fathers.”   

[Page 86]                    The identification of the author with the apostle has been rejected on the ground that the writer does not call himself an apostle[27] and that the presumption of apostolic authorship would have avoided many of the later questionings of the books canonicity.[28]   On the other hand the author of First, Second, and Third John never names himself yet is often believed to be the apostle John--an identification that seems sound to this commentator as well.  If accepted in regard to even one of these epistles, then it constitutes significant evidence that a person did not have to explicitly identify himself as an “apostle” for a writing to be validly accepted as such. 

On the other hand these epistles (especially Second John and Third John) enjoyed a less than enthusiastic acceptance in certain quarters.[29]   Hence these writings could also be introduced as evidence on the opposite side of the question, of the pitfalls of not making the assertion explicit even when it was a fact.

            A more significant (and quite common) argument is that the chronology won’t fit an authorship by the apostle.  As one student of the New Testament canon has written, “James the son of Zebedee was martyred under Herod Agrippa I, not later than the spring of AD 44; and that an apostle would write an encyclical letter before this date is so unlikely that it does not need to be considered.”[30]  On the other hand, if the internal evidence is as strong as I perceive it to be for an early date, a composition in the early 40s of the first century is quite feasible. 

And if feasible, then there is no inherent objection to the writer having been the apostle.  Furthermore, the relatively early execution of James combined with its noncontroversial contents--within the context of the Judaizing and quasi-gnostic controversies--would go far to explain the relative lack of direct impact upon post-apostolic writings.  

            A variant of the chronological argument is that James the apostle died too early “to have become an authoritative figure for the churches outside of Palestine.”[31]  Inside [Page 87]   of Palestine, yes; but this epistle was written to Jewish believers throughout the world (1:1).  Much of the same problem is faced, however, if the epistle is from the late 40s or early 50s and comes from the pen of James the kinsman of Jesus.  The difficulty of explaining James as an authority figure in a distant country is only resolved by the theory of pseudonymity: enough decades have gone by that an earlier figure has now reached the level, in exaggerated memory, of someone extremely important.  Of course pseudonymity creates its own even greater set of problems (see below). 

            Our line of reasoning has left out a very important element, however.  An apostle was an inherent authority figure to anyone who (1) accepted the legitimacy of Jesus’ teaching as found in such places as Matthew 18:18 and (2) who recognized the specific individual as an apostle. 

Paul’s authority was challenged, so far as we can tell from the epistles bearing his name, due to his listeners’ being upset with his teachings.  Hence the repeated emphasis on his being a true apostle:  that claim--once granted--was sufficient in its own right to establish his authority.  The same would be true of James the apostle.  And since he does not deal with the divisive issues of the type that tore the church between Gentile and traditionalist Jewish factions, there is no need for the author to argue the point.

            There is no compelling reason that decisively shifts the evidence in favor of either James the kinsman or James the apostle.  I personally suspect apostolic authorship because it easiest explains why the individual would feel he had the authority to write (and to be heeded) and due to the very early date of the writing.




Blending the James of Jerusalem and the Apostle

into the Same Individual?



[Page 88]                    Some attempt to bridge the two kinsman vs. apostle approaches by contending that at least one of Jesus’ kinsmen was an apostle and that this James was just such an individual:  kinsman of the Lord, leader of the Jerusalem church, and apostle as well.  Few non-Catholic scholars embrace this approach.  Although once enjoying general Catholic scholarly support, the general consensus has come to either question or outright reject the identification in that quarter as well.[32]


            The claim that the brothers were unanimously non-believers during His lifetime has been challenged and we will discuss that later.  (See the discussion of the discipleship possibility in the next major section below.)  Even if that were not uniformly true of all his kin, there is the not exactly small problem of how a brother of Jesus became known as the son of Zebedee or the son of Aphaeus—the parents of the two apostolic Jameses!  Hence if James were an apostle, it is hard to see how he could possibly been such while Jesus was alive—a disciple, possibly, but not an apostle.     

            What makes the apostolic scenario worth considering at all is the possibility that he only became such later, that he was not appointed to the office until after the resurrection.  Paul certainly isolates “His being seen by James” (1 Corinthians 15:7) from other sightings though that would not have to mean he was an apostle any more than being “seen by Cephas, then by the twelve” (15:5) proves the appearing to a Cephas who wasn’t already an apostle. 

On the other hand if this James was Jesus’ non-apostolic brother, this could have been the occasion to qualify him for the post—just as Jesus later appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus for that purpose.  The problem is that, though it fits together quite nicely, there really isn’t a piece of strong, hard evidence that we can “nail to the wall” to assure that we are working from a firm premise.    

[Page 89]                    Certainly when a new apostle was appointed in Acts 1, the forfeiture of the post by Judas was pointed to and the replacement is conspicuously not James.  Although one might conjecture some later addition of him to the apostolic rank, the lack of Biblical mention seems nothing short of astounding if an additional appointment(s) was actually made.


            On the other hand—as they say—there is a “loose end” that must be considered.  Paul seems to offer support for the apostolic connection when writing to the Galatians.  After his conversion and three years had passed, he writes of going “to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.  But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother” (Galatians 1:18-19).  Note that the only James in Jerusalem at this time he considers worth mentioning is the “apostle” James who he explicitly identifies as being “the Lord’s brother.”  This would likely be in the 38-40 A.D. range of dates.

            When he returned after fourteen years (2:1), the only James that is mentioned in Jerusalem is also in the context of discussing the apostles:  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” (2:9). 

Here two of them are clearly intended to be apostles; must we not put James in that same category as well?  The text—neither here or in Acts--states or implies the arising to importance of an additional James, a Lord’s brother who is non-apostolic and [Page 90]   whom Paul sees no difficulty of introducing as if on a par or equivalence with the apostles.

            If we make this visit the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 (dated 49-51), then what happens to the James of Jerusalem who is non-apostle and prominent figure / dominant personality in the Jerusalem congregation?  The death of the James of Jerusalem is dated 62 A.D.—long after these events.  The death of James the apostle (“the brother of John”) is recorded in Acts 12:2, however, with a date of 44 A.D.  And interlocking the chronology of Galatians with Acts, we also have an apostle James explicitly in Jerusalem in 38-40 and apparently in 49-51 as well.

            Had he been replaced with a new apostle James, the physical kinsman of the Lord?  Although a discrepancy with later ecclesiastical writings would not be impossible, those writings describe him as James the Just (or Righteous) and also as a bishop.  Conspicuously “apostle” is not the epithet applied to him.  If anything these later writings have a tendency to elevate the importance of early church figures rather than describe them with more modest titles and descriptions.  Use of “apostle” would seem to have been an irresistible if they had thought he actually occupied the office.

Hence we seem to be forced by the chronology to conclude that after the death of James the apostle, another James rises to prominence of such significance and importance in the eyes of the community that it seemed natural to describe him in the same breath with the apostles Peter and John in Galatians 2:9 even though he did not share with them that same position.  

And if he wasn’t an apostle, who but a blood relative of the Lord was likely to be able to accomplish this?  Who else would have the prestigious background that would [Page 91]   enable him to move into such a prominent place of respect and acceptance on a rapid basis?  This doesn’t require that he sought a leadership position, but that through force of personality and character it flowed naturally to him. 

Perhaps his success led to his own appointment as an apostle as well?  Again why don’t later descriptions of him grant him the honor if this were the case?  More important is that the Galatians 2:9 speaks of how “James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars” of the church embraced Paul’s mission.  It could justly be argued that Paul conspicuously chooses to refer to their prestige and leadership--as “pillars”--and not their office held because James of Jerusalem conspicuously did not qualify as an apostle.  He had stature and not post.

Hence 2:9 is conspicuously silent as to any explicit apostolic post and James being mentioned in the same breath as two apostles does not turn out to be quite as significant as it initially seemed.

That possibility brings us back to Galatians 1:19 and its identification of James as an apostle.  But does it really need to be James the apostle rather than James of Jerusalem even there?[33]  Even though most translations make the identification, David A. Anderson makes the case that this is a mistaken understanding of Paul’s point:[34]


However, the word "other" is not the Greek word "allos", meaning "other of the same kind". It is the Greek word "heteros", meaning "other of a different kind".  If Paul meant to call James an apostle, he at least meant an apostle of a different kind than Peter and the other eleven. . . .  A better translation of Galatians 1:19 is, "but other than the apostles saw I none save James the Lord's brother". A. E. Knoch's Concordant Literal New Testament translates verse nineteen, "Yet I became acquainted with no one different from the apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord."  Moffatt translates the verse, "I saw no other apostle, (I saw) only James the brother of the Lord."


[Page 92]                    Some have appealed to the old and once widely used American Standard Version (1901), “But other of the apostles saw I none save [alternate reading: but only] James the Lord’s brother.”  Some see this as distinguishing James from the apostles.

            The New International Version, would certainly concur in that judgement:  “I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother.”  The God’s Word translation also clearly opts for the alternative:  “I didn't see any other apostle. I only saw James, the Lord's brother.”        

            Another possibility puts the emphasis on the meaning of the word “apostle” and how it can be used in both a narrower and looser sense.[35]  In the strict sense it meant one sent forth and, in usage, the ideas of being a delegate, a representative of another.  When the authoritative aspect of the person is stressed (as in the “twelve apostles”) it has the practical connotation of ambassador or fully authoritative representative—the inevitable result when one combines the idea of a worldwide commission (Matthew 28:18-20) with the power to bind and loose (Matthew 18:18) and inspiration from God (John 16:12-15). 

            In Antioch the Holy Spirit instructed, “Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:3) and the congregation sent them out on their first missionary journey.  Commissioned by God, sent out by God, and also, for that matter, by the Antiochian congregation, they were the “apostles” of God.  Indeed in Acts 14:14 they are identified as “the apostles Barnabas and Paul.” 

[Page 93]                    Yet although the term was properly applicable to both of them, Paul’s commissioning on the road to Damascus still put him in a special category linked with the limited group of the original twelve.  Those apostles in particular.  For all the virtues Barnabas clearly possessed, that was one he did not have.  \

So it would not be unreasonable for James of Jerusalem to have been given the courtesy title of “apostle” in Galatians 1 since he clearly possessed the respect and confidence of the congregation and Paul.  Indeed, his intervention in Acts 15/Galatians 2 could hardly have been sufficient to settle the matter if he did not possess it. 



Were the Physical Brothers Believers

During Jesus’ Lifetime?




            Overview.  Whether we make the brother of the Lord an apostle or not, there is still the question of whether he can be described as a believer or non-believer in Jesus during the earthly ministry.  How do we explain his apparent lack of faith?

            Speaking of a time after the apostles were selected, John 7:5 quite emphatically mentions, “even His brothers did not believe in Him.”  Interesting interpretive “spins” have been placed on this passage, such as that it refers to the inadequate quality of their belief rather than the absolute lack of it.[36]  Others deal with the text by emphasizing that it does not mention either “indifference” or overt “hostility.”[37]  They could have “great respect for Jesus” yet still dissent from His “methods” because they had no understanding “of His mission.”[38] 

[Page 94]                    We will shortly examine in detail whether John 7:5 is thoroughly misunderstood by the bulk of interpreters, but if the traditional reading of the text holds sound the unqualified remark of John 7:5 would be very odd if one of those brothers soon became a prominent leader in the early church at the apostolic level.  Even more so if he were already such!  It becomes even more difficult to accept if, like some, we insist that the apostles Simon and Judas were Jesus’ physical kinsmen as well—the assertion in John 7:5 is so broad that it seems impossible to fit it in with such a scenario.[39]  Indeed Acts 1:13 lists all the apostles (except Judas Iscariot, who had committed suicide) and contrasts then with the others in their company, including “His brothers” (1:14).[40]   

            Acts 1:14, however, by noting their presence with the apostles and early disciples certainly pictures them in an environment that would encourage them in the direction of full faith, if it had not already blossomed as they listened to the stories of the resurrected Christ.  Oddly enough, an appearance to either His mother or the other family members is never directly asserted although Paul refers to at least one mass appearance that might have included her due to the pure size of the group (1 Corinthians 15:6).  Certainly one would expect a resurrection appearance to reassure Mary and prepare her for the future even if none of His other physical kinsmen were included.  If it happened this would, presumably, have to have been the occasion.

             The appearance to “James” (1 Corinthians 15:7) has been cited to prove that the kinsman received a revelation of the Lord as had the apostles,[41] but this is assuming that “James” is different from James the apostle, which may or may not be the case.  There is no more necessity of believing that this James is not one of  “the apostles” mentioned in [Page 95]   the same verse than to hypothesize that the “Cephas” who saw Jesus before “the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5) was different from the “Cephas” who was an apostle.  Furthermore, so far as we can tell, all of these initial beholders of the resurrected Jesus were already believers.  Hence it would be odd, indeed, if the appearance were calculated to produce faith, as is the assumption--stated or implied.  The only analogy would be with that of Saul on the road to Damascus. 

            (We argued earlier that 1 Corinthians 15:7 did not have to carry the connotation that James was an apostle.  Here we simply argue that the reverse is also true—that it does not have to bear the construction that he was not an apostle.  If one must choose between the two approaches, the likelihood would seem firmly in behalf of the latter:  he had not been and never became an apostle.  James the apostle could have written the epistle; James the kinsman could have written the epistle.  But the two were not one and the same.)     


            The meaning of John 7 in particular.  Having given the “Reader’s Digest” survey in order to show the background of the debate, let us look at John 7 in detail, beginning with the broader text.  Assuming James was an apostle he had to have been a believer in Jesus; anything else is simply not credible.  Here we deal with a significantly different issue:  whether James could have been a believer without being an apostle.  

If so, that would effectively neutralize much or all of our objection about how a non-believer could rise so quickly to prominence in the Jesus movement after His death and resurrection.  Certainly John 7 itself indicates there is significantly more at issue than just lack of faith:

[Page 96]

2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.  3 His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.  4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly.  If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”  5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.  6 Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.  7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.  8 “You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”  9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.  10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.


            “Even his brothers did not believe in Him” certainly sounds like a highly relevant claim that they were alienated from Him and His movement.  Yet note carefully how the text leads into this by concessions that they had faith: 

            Verse 3:  “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.”  There is no denial that He is working miracles.  There is no denial that He has that power and has been using it.  They want His disciples in Judea to see them as well.

            Verse 4a:  “For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly.”  If He wishes to be “known” for what He claims—presumably of Himself and His authority—then it makes no sense to avoid doing such miracles.  Doing [Page 97]   them in the comparative secrecy of Galilee while those in Judea can not witness and be impressed by them, is to deny the opportunity to use that extraordinary power He has—His miracle working power.  If He wishes to be embraced by the world, He must show Himself to that world.

            Verse 4b:  “If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”  A denial that he worked miracles?  Wouldn’t that make it in conflict with their admission of them in verse 3 and their annoyance in verse 4a that he is declining to use His most powerful weapon?  Approached from what has already been said, does not “if You do these things, show Yourself to the world” carry with it the challenge to change His clearly intended policy:  Work those same miracles in Galilee!  Don’t restrict them to here!

            In other words what they have lack of faith in is His strategy.  His plans.  Not lack of faith in His power or even His claims.  Does miracle working even on His scale assure wisdom in its use?  They thought not.  And if Jesus had been a mere “normal” prophet, they might even have been right.  Who knows?

            But He was more than that.  Did they lack faith in such?  Perhaps.  But if His twelve apostles clearly were uncertain about just “who” Jesus was and what and how His ultimate aims would be carried out--and yet we do not deny they had “faith”--can be deny it to these kin as well?              

            Nor does His response denounce them for a lack of faith:  He either rebukes them (or explains to them—it can be read either way) concerning why He is not acting the way they wished:  “My time has not yet come” (7:6).  They’ve done nothing to raise the rage of the world, but Jesus Himself has by denouncing its “evil” (7:7).  It is the insistence on a different timing for Jesus’ action that has produced the description of how they “did not believe in Him” (7:5).  They want Him to act now—period.           

[Page 98]                    So great is their determination to get Him to do things now that He does not want to do, that He stays behind and goes to Jerusalem separately.

            They had, if you will, an “inadequate belief”[42] rather than one willing to conform itself to His plans.  But in that sense, did not the apostles themselves fall short?  Hence it does not really seem just to find in John 7 the kind of absolute rejection that is often read into the passage. 


            Nor should we overlook the broader context in deciding what is intended.  In chapter 6 we find that after He fed the 5,000, “Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone” (6:14-15).  When He returned to Capernaum He made it a point to talk about eating His flesh as a way of disconcerting the overwrought crowds (6:50-51).  His teaching threw the proverbial “cold water” on the excessive enthusiasm of His followers, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (6:67).

            It is in this context of the crowds wanting their prophetic King and those seeking to kill Jesus in Galilee (7:1), that His kin challenge Him to do His miracles openly there.  In such a context was not their goal to have Him stir up the crowds again—this time in the governing heart of the region—and reignite the powerful passions that had made the Galileans want to crown Him as ruler? 

[Page 99]                    In short, are they not annoyed at Jesus’ intentional restraint when He had proved popular enthusiasm was prepared to propel Him to the Kingship?  Is not their lack of faith a lack of faith that Jesus knew what He was doing—that they wanted Him to become King in the physical, temporal manner they were expecting rather than in the spiritual one Jesus intended . . . a triumph over souls and not armor? 

Yes, they lacked faith—but was it not in His strategy and not in His miracles, authority, or teaching?     


            John 2 as a possible indication of discipleship—or something close to it?  In Cana of Galilee “there was a wedding . . . and the mother of Jesus was there” (2:1).  Also both “both Jesus and His disciples were invited” (2:2), arguing that by this point they were recognized as a distinct group of compatriots.  People may or may not have had a good idea what they were about, but either way they are still, collectively, an identifiable entity that is taken for granted as closely linked to each other.    

            Our text omits any explicit reference to the presence of His brothers and only says that after His turning water into wine, “He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days” (2:12).  Now does this imply that the brothers were also at Cana for the wedding or simply that the two traveling parties joined together in Nazareth for the trip to Capernaum? 

The latter would argue that the kin had been about some other business they deemed essential.  Or are we to assume that they were also present earlier but not mentioned?  If both Jesus and His mother were invited, would it not be extraordinary if the rest of the family were not?  Hence the assumption here would virtually have to be that they were present at the festivities as well.  Any other business they had would surely had been postponed to another occasion.  

[Page 100]                  The text does not explicitly say His mother believed in Him, but her insistence that He do something about the wine shortage surely argues that she regarded Him as having a miracle working ability.  Knowing that His future would “rile many feathers,” would it have been odd if He even explicitly told her ahead of this what He could do and the broad course of His future intentions? 

Furthermore, there is the memory of His miraculous conception—a reality she was hardly likely to share with her other children at this stage; cf. Luke 2:19.  That alone would have compelled her to put Jesus in a very special and unique category.

            Could His role at the feast have produced among His brothers anything short of an awe, a reverence, the belief that He could do things others could not?  A shared faith or confidence, but nothing well developed at this stage, for it was so early in the ministry.

This assumes His envolvement in the wine was known to the brethren and to the disciples, yet is it at all likely that the wine shortage and the sudden abundance would have gone unnoticed and—at least afterwards—uncommented upon by Mary?  (Or the mysterious appearance of quality wine brought up the brothers themselves in wonderment—producing an explanation?)  The knowledge could hardly have done anything except encourage faith that Jesus was unique and different and deserved to be closely listened to among disciples and brethren alike.

            Hence the traveling together of the two groups—disciples and family—would likely be, in part, because of a shared respect / reverence for Jesus.  Disciples shading into family and vice versa.  

            Next in the chronology we note that “they did not stay there [in Capernaum] many [Page 101]   days” yet it is only one person who is explicitly mentioning as leaving:  “and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” for the Passover (2:13).  It is only in verse 22 that we read that “the disciples” were there as well.   But did the “they did not stay there many days” include the brethren of the Lord as well?  Being the Passover time—which faithful Jews tried their best to observe—would not their failure to go indicate a lapse both in regard to Jesus and their own existing religion? 

            In short, the brethren of the Lord virtually had to have been in Jerusalem at that time—along with, and presumably in the company, of “the disciples.”  Does not that argue that they were part of the disciple community or, at least, existing on its fringe?  Hence the best interpretation seems to be that at this early stage they were at least loosely or tentatively associated with them as part of the believing community.   

            In this early period and at least up to the trip to Jerusalem in John 7, the events the family knew of or had seen make the lack of at least an ambiguous kind of faith little short of impossible.  On the other hand, its depth should not be overmagnified either.  (The same might well be said for the apostles at this early stage!)  As A. T. Robertson reasonably reconstructs the situation,[43]

The presence of the band of “disciples” (learners at the feet of the new Rabbi) [in Capernaum] argues that the brothers must have known something about the wonderful claims of Jesus their brother.  At any rate, it is pleasant to see them all here together in Capernaum in fellowship and friendliness, “a proof of the closeness of the ties uniting our Lord and them.  No shadow of estrangement has as yet fallen upon their relations” (Patrick, James the Lord’s Brother, page 46).

Godet (on Luke 2:12) thinks that Mary and the brothers came on to [Page 102]  Capernaum eager for more miracles like the one at Cana, and may have been keenly disappointed because Jesus wrought none.  This is possible, but hardly as probable as the idea that it is a friendly group in frank fellowship in Capernaum.

We are left in the dark as to the real attitude of the brothers of Jesus when He begins His great work.  They may have looked upon Him as a sort of irregular rabbi or a mild enthusiast carried away by the new teaching of John the Baptist.  There would be natural pride in His work, while it succeeded, without necessary belief in His claims. 

Certainly Mary must have had at first the utmost faith tremulous with expectation in the Messiahship of Jesus.  Perhaps the brothers were at first only mildly interested or even skeptical of the qualifications of one out of their own family circle.  The brothers may not have been free from the jealousy sometimes seen in home life.


Then when local Capernaum hostility began to ferment against their Brother, their own faith—or, at least, degree of public commitment--was likely to cool among at least some of them.  After all, Jesus traveled about.  Most of the family likely had to remain behind.  (Today we would say, “there were bills to pay.”  Not to mention individual family responsibilities of the various brothers.) 

An attempt to maintain at least a fragile and tolerable relationship with the [Page 103]   community would surely have made any open fealty low key in order to preserve the peace.  Capernaum was simply not a place of overflowing sympathy with Jesus.  If anything it was usually a place of rejection as Jesus Himself refers to (Matthew 11:23).

The local environment would have put them all under pressure to minimize the public obviousness of their commitment and if their traditionally assumed opposition existed at all, this would be the logical point for it to be strengthened:  As local skepticism and hostility became more pronounced, their own hesitancy could easily harden into something more hostile and openly expressed.



            Hence we need to examine an often cited case of positive evidence of hostility--at least extreme concern--by the family.  The incident is recorded in Mark 3:31-35 (cf. Mathew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21) speaks of when His family came and wished to speak with Him:


                        “They sent to Him, calling Him” (Mark 3:31);

            “His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him (Matthew 12:46);

“Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You” (Luke 8:20).


So far as these verses go, they could indicate that they felt excluded from what was going on and, as His family, felt they should be deeper involved.  Alternatively, they could feel (as in John 7) that there were things He needed to be doing—that He hadn’t.  [Page 104]   In other words they were there not to silence Him, but to urge Him on beyond what He was willing to do so far. 

            Alternatively--Or perhaps they did (in a sense) wish to silence Him a tad:  He was getting well known for casting out demons (3:22).  His miracles deeply annoyed the religious establishment because they added credibility to His teaching claims—if He could do such wonders surely God must have given Him a commission.  And if He teaches, that God stands behind it!  Why else would He be given such power?

Giving the degree to which His teaching was often at odds with the traditionalists, was it really wise or prudent to so freely cast out demons?  An act that clearly inflamed His enemies even worse.  Might this not need to be reined in at least temporarily? 
            Hence they could have been there for this kind of reason instead.  Not to stop Him, but to get Him to temporarily exercise restraint in such matters.  Not doubt of what He was doing, but tactical doubts as to how to proceed--something significantly different from lack of faith in the usual sense of opposition and dismissal. 

Even so, in light of John 7, it seems far more likely that what they were concerned about was His not pushing His agenda as zealously as they thought He should.  That would create a powerful linkage and consistency between the two texts.


            Does Mark 3:21 prove that a lack of faith motivated their intervention in 3:31?  What seems to put a negative and unbelieving aspect on their actions is found earlier, and only in Mark 3:21:  “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’ ”  

[Page 105]                  Translations render this in three fashions:  In the older translations, it tends to be “His friends” in the ASV, BBE, KJV, Young

            In more recent versions it is sometimes rendered, “His own people,” as in the NASB, NKJV.

            The most common, however, makes it family explicit:  “Jesus’ family” is the preference in the CEV or “His family” in the Holman, ISV, RSV, and TEV or the vaguer “His relatives” (in Weymouth).

            “It is generally recognized that reference to the group [uses a Greek term] . . . that is not an explicit reference to the family.  Indeed, it is more naturally translated  as ‘associates,’ ‘adherents,’ ‘friends,’ and ‘followers.’”[44] 

            What makes the family tie-in conclusive to many is that Jesus’ “people” have decided to intervene in verse 21 and in verse 31 it is the family that arrives; hence the two terms refer to the same group of people.  John Painter argues that the immediately previous event Mark narrates before verse 21 is the appointment of the apostles (3:13-19) and that, therefore, the “friends/associates” of verse 21 would most naturally be His newly picked apostles.[45]  Their zeal, fears, and concern have temporarily outrun their proper role as followers.   

            That doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Having just appointed them as key subordinates, they react with “He is out of His mind”?  That boggles the imagination.  The apostles were quite capable of misunderstanding both Jesus’ teaching and goals, but to dismiss Him as insane?  That is surely ludicrous, especially so quickly after their appointment.

            The next most natural “fit” of concerned individuals would be acquaintances from Nazareth.  Fearing Jesus was crazy certainly rings true to the problem of unbelief He [Page 106]   found in His hometown—see the discussion about Matthew 13 below.  Last of all in interpretive options, does it seem to fit His own family?  They had seen what happened at Cana.  With that precedent, it seems difficult to believe that they rejected His having an unknown array of supernatural powers, however. 

            They might, however, as suggested above, have decided that what He was doing represented a flawed strategy:  He was accumulating enemies when He needed more friends and allies.  But there is a profound difference between this and thinking “He is out of His mind.” 

Hence the townspeople argument represents the best interpretive option in Mark 3:21if one accepts that the NKJV and NASB renderings are the most accurate.  That they were hostile townspeople rather than friendly ones would be the type of townspeople envolved. 

That leaves us with Mark 3:31 and the family’s unquestioned intervention and Jesus’ polite avoidance of dealing with them.  Whatever they wanted, He clearly didn’t want to do it.  So He avoided confrontation by avoiding seeing them.  An excellent strategy for a difficult situation.  Furthermore that they were concerned about his tactics and strategy for obtaining maximum success—as considered above—makes far greater sense than that they were trying to absolutely silence Him or shared in doubts of His mental balance. 


The only real potential difficulty here is that the departure to go and restrain Him (“they went out to lay hold of Him”) is mentioned in verse 21, but their arrival is not mentioned.  Those who we know arrived are mentioned in verse 31 and it is His family.

[Page 107]                  Or did they actually arrive before the family?  Note carefully the wording:

21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.”  22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”

Could not the textual point be that they did arrive and that this explains the accusation of the scribes of successful exorcisms being made possible via the Devil?  The townspeople found that their intervention was “one upped” by the Jerusalem critics who argued that it wasn’t really a case of (just) insanity but of overt demonic power—or even a merger of the two arguments, that His insanity was proved because no sane man could be exercising such evil powers. 

In short two lines of criticism coming together at the same place and at the same time:  Jesus pulled the rug out of the townspeople’s concerns when he gutted their momentary scribal allies who took the criticism even further than they had.  In other words, the discussion presumes the presence of both groups of critics.  The refutation of the one undermined the other group as well.     


            Direct evidence of opposition from Jesus’ teaching in the Nazareth synagogue?  Matthew 13 presents the incident this way,

[Page 108]

54 And when He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter's son?  Is not His mother called Mary?  And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us?  Where then did this Man get all these things?  57 So they were offended at Him.  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”  58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. 


            It has been common to present this as Jesus’ recognition of family hostility.  But His family has not raised a word of protest in the passage; it comes from the other villagers.  Indeed, the words of protest distinguish between the protestors and the family—they point to them as local residents and not as ones joining in the rejection.

In that setting, the language is far more likely to be a reference to country and place of residence.  In other words Nazareth as contrasted with Galilee (or all of Jewish Palestine).  The “downward” comparison from “country” makes region or town the most likely group to be mentioned as one’s “own house” rather than one’s own family.

            Although some translations retain the country / house distinction, more opt for an explicit “own town / own home” (NIV) or “hometown / own household [or house]” (ESV, Holman, NASB).  Accepting this as the preferred rendering, then an application to His kin is inescapable.

            Although even here we would still have the question of the nature of their “dishonor.”  Was it a lack of faith or something else? 

[Page 109]                  In some of our previous texts we saw that there were situations where they were likely annoyed at him--not because they lacked faith in Him--but because He was being insufficiently aggressive—in their eyes--in pushing His cause.  Of course their annoyance was almost certainly rooted in the expectation and desire for Him to become a reigning monarch of a temporal type and that was never part of His agenda. 

But lack of faith that He performed miracles and was ordained of God to teach His gospel?  That seems far less likely to have been the case.  Their “dishonor” lay in expecting Him to be the kind of Messiah He never intended to be.



            Conclusion.  From what we have seen, the lack of faith in Jesus by His family is far from as assured a certainty as is usually supposed.  In a sense one can reasonably argue that they had “too much faith”—a faith that expected too much, too soon, and for His success to take temporal forms He never envisioned.  If this reading of the evidence is correct they did, indeed, “lack faith” but in a profoundly different sense than that normally assumed.

            Whatever lack of faith they may have had was an irrelevancy by the time James—if he was, indeed, the brother of the Lord—wrote his epistle.  By that time not only had his faith become profoundly deep, but he had become a key leader in the early church as well.




The Pseudonymity Authorship Option


[Page 110]                  The final alternative as to authorship is that of pseudonymity.[46]  (Already discussed in the previous chapter, the topic deserves extra attention in the current context as well.)  Advocates of this approach range from those who consider that the entire epistle represents the beliefs of the fictional James to those who believe that it was to some degree--great or small--based upon the “real” James’ teaching, but composed at a much later date in the language and rhetoric of a later period.  In the latter case one would have a hybrid work, quasi-historical yet put in its current form by someone other than the purported author.[47] 

            There was nothing inherently improper in a later writer reporting the teaching of someone he or she had heard.  What needs to be explained is why it is not presented as such but simply presented as if the personal work of the original James.  The only situation in which this commentator can conceive of an intellectually honest person having done so was if the vast bulk--either all or nearly all--came from that source.  But in that case can we consider it truly pseudonymous?  Furthermore, the same arguments utilized in favor of a totally pseudonymous work (see below) would--if valid—quite easily argue against the inclusion of any significant degree of genuine Jamesian material.

            What, then, of the theory that it is a “purely” pseudonymous work?  Such works certainly have survived.  A careful study of such documents has argued that when the purported writer was centuries in the past or more, that he was considered fair game for attribution.  In the cases of more recent individuals the invocation of such an identification was avoided or, when suggested, considered manifestly improper.[48]

            In effect, when the author was sufficiently close in time to the present where there was at least a moderate chance that the book had been previously overlooked, the attribution was regarded as an abuse of authorial privilege.  When a previously unheard of work popped up from someone so many centuries before that it was impossible for it to have credibly been by him, it could be received as an innocent pious fiction. 

            If this is an accurate evaluation of the ancient mentality, then a fake Enoch was quite possible, while a faked apostolic or first generation disciple of Christ text would [Page 111]   have been regarded as abhorrent.  How likely is it that the author of a faked “James” would have violated the ethical norms expected of imitations?         


The primary evidence for pseudonymity in the current case is the literary quality of the work.  In particular its use of “Hellenistic Greek literary rhetorical devices”[49] and even “Hellenistic philosophical terms”[50] that would have been presumably unknown to a provincial Jew.  James’ repeated use of alliteration, wordplay (including where a term may be used in two different senses), and a use of classical Greek expressions not found in either the Septuagint or the New Testament are examples of his extensive knowledge.[51]

This raises the broader issue of how pervasive was the knowledge and use of Greek in the provinces and how skilled individuals could be expected to be.  A strong case can be made that many possessed considerable Greek speaking and writings talents.[52] 

            The use of plays on words[53] would certainly not seem to require any particularly deep skill.  Nor does the use of alliteration[54] seem beyond the ability of a moderately skilled provincial.  It has been noted that even when he seems most “Greek” in the expressions he uses, he typically imposes on them his own “bend” rather than the traditional Greek connotations—making them more congenial with Semitic thought of the time.[55]  For that matter the use of “dialogue between the writer and an imaginary interlocutor”[56] may strike a particular individual as significant, but to others it would appear a reasonable rhetorical tool in its own right.[57] 

            Furthermore, Paul the Hebrew of Hebrews, utilizes these techniques[58] even though he had undergone a strict orthodox, traditional Jewish upbringing and education.  This style--called the “diatribe form” invented by the Greek Cynics and most well known to the modern world in the writings of Epictetus--had a certain inherent effectiveness as a teaching mode, as seen by the examples we’ve cited.  Why then should it be surprising to find it used (in a modified) form among non-Greeks?[59] 

[Page 112]                  If one is receptive to the concept of an amanuensis—an argument often introduced when New Testament writers don’t quite “sound” like their other works would lead us to expect—then that would certainly be a viable option in regard to James.  This in no way asserts ignorance or incapacity on James’ part, merely the desire to have the material presented to the world in the most telling manner.  “Even the Jewish historian Josephus, who must have learned Greek in his youth and spoken it quite competently, employed assistants to polish his Greek style, while remaining unequivocally the author of his works.”[60]


            Opportunities for the historic James to have gained a more profound mastery of Greek.  In the first chapter we argued in behalf of James having had considerable access to Greek language speech in his youth.  Here let us begin by stressing that in his years in Jerusalem he would have come into contact with temporary and permanent residents of the Diaspora in large number.  Hence he would have had the opportunity (and need) to utilize the skills he already possessed and polish them even further.[61] 

It should be noted that just as the characteristics of the epistle’s Greek language has been used to argue against the possibility that the James of the Jerusalem Conference wrote the letter, similarities have also been used to argue the polar opposite--that the two individuals are one and the same.[62]   

            Furthermore, Greek was anything but an obscure language in geographic Palestine.  Love them or hate them, the Greek spoken by the occupying forces was everywhere.  Indeed, Alexander the Great had begun the regional tradition of having government documents and decrees in that language and the Romans give every indication of having continued this tradition in Palestine.[63] 

[Page 113]                  Come in contact with the governing authorities and its official records and orders and you came in contact with Greek.  And unless you were a naively trusting individual with next to nothing to lose, it behooved you—whenever possible—to know enough of it to discover what was really written rather than just what was being claimed.  (Or, at least, to have someone with you who could.)  Especially since interaction with officialdom was going to be in that language as well.

            Furthermore culturally, Greek had the upper hand as well.  Everywhere else it was the stock in trade of those who claimed to be educated and well versed in the learning of the world.  Would anyone who had hopes to be so regarded themselves dare lack a decent grounding in the language?[64]  Remember that we are dealing with a very “class orientated” society and in that world view you naturally embraced whatever would reinforce your claim to “belong” to the upper stratas. 

Competency in Greek would be common as the result.  Not to mention among the far broader segment of society that had to deal with such Jews—not to mention Gentiles.  These did not have to feel enthusiastic about the matter; it was simply part of contemporary society.  A theory (and reality) of “trickle down Greek” seems inevitable under the existing social situation.

Such factors would be reinforced by the significant number of Hellenistic cities consciously created throughout Galilee and Judaea when under Roman control.  Like it or not, one or two such places might be scorned—but the presence of a significant number made them cultural focuses from which Greek and Hellenistic influences inevitably spread out and affected the surrounding region.[65]

[Page 114]                  Did you seek a broader horizon for your talents?  Were you a trader that went further than a hundred or two hundred miles, departing Palestine and going into the surrounding regions?  You better know Greek if you planned on communicating with the locals and wished to convince them to buy (or trade) your product.[66]

            Were you a religious official wishing to communicate with Jews in other parts of the empire who were brought up as Greek speakers from youth?[67]  You had better be able to speak or write it and, if you didn’t, elemental prudence required that you know enough to check what was really being sent out in your name.

            Just how great an acquaintance with the language that the religious and secular aristocracy and power brokers of Palestine actually had, has been a subject of intense discussion and produced considerably different results, however.[68]  Yet the underlying pressures and tensions we have described would surely have pushed the general population to greater knowledge of Greek than many (most?) would have preferred. 

And there would also be the urban-rural divide to take into consideration, with the usage of Greek—and fluency in—far more likely to be found in urban areas and only to a lesser degree in the rest of the land. 

Within this wide variety of social and personal situations and obligations, the result would surely have been widely differing degrees of fluency even within a given city or region.  Yet it seems certain that, over time, there would have been a great tendency for the familiarization to ever grow stronger and wider spread.  As Catherine Hezser has wisely summed up the language situation near the beginning and its gradual strengthening,[69]

[Page 115]   

Some were familiar with a few words and phrases only, some could understand Greek but hardly speak the language themselves, some were able to lead simple conversations in the market, some were perfectly conversant, some able to read and others write a Greek letter.  A person who knows only a few words of another language, or one who knows a few phrases to lead a simple conversation can hardly be called bilingual.  Yet such a rudimentary knowledge of Greek may have been the rule for many (most?) Jews who did not live in cities which had a large Greek-speaking population. 

One may assume, though, that changes in the geopolitical structure of Palestine, that is, the increased urbanization of the province, and better relations between city and countryside will have eventually lead to changes in the Jewish population’s familiarity with the Greek language as well.


            In other words, the urban roots of Greek usage would gradually have become pervasive throughout the land.  Even with a more than adequate knowledge and ease in Greek, this did not rule out able usage of Aramaic as well.  This was, if you will, the common people’s language.  To simplify:  to communicate with a cross section of society you needed to be able to communicate “upward” (with Greek) and “downward” to the masses with Aramaic.  (The language they would have preferred to the “alien” Greek.)  And if you were to take a public leadership role in worship services, your ability to read the scrolls in Hebrew was not exactly a minor help either.

[Page 116]                  Even in such a setting, however, it is argued that it is difficult to explain, the (alleged) lack of “Aramaisms,”[70] since either the apostle or kinsman James would be expected to have used Aramaic as a primary language in daily conversation.  Indeed, indications from the sixth through the third centuries B.C., argue that Aramaic had become widespread as a spoken language--from parts of Turkey down into Sinai and parts of Egypt as well as eastward into Mesopotamia.[71] 

By the first century A.D. it was at least occasionally utilized for written historical purposes (in Josephus’ first version of the War) and religious documents as well (the varied Aramaic works found at Qumran, which likely included volumes “imported” from other sources in the Middle East).[72]  However much you utilized it, however, that Greek knowledge was still vital.

But when all is said and done, James would surely have been fluent in Aramaic as well, regardless of what other languages he might utilize—mildly or in depth. Are there indications of such a knowledge in the epistle of James?  For reasons we just mentioned, it would be far more shocking if he didn’t speak it—and well, on top of that--due to the society in which he lived.  Beyond that, some have claimed to detect indications that James knew an Aramaic form of Jesus’ teachings.[73] 

Alleged parallels with the thinking of the Qumran Dead Sea community (as reflected in their writings) have been asserted as well[74] and, if accepted even in part, would be difficult to conceive of being within the knowledge a non-Palestinian resident. (Moving the author to Mesopotamia or Egypt would require one to explain how such “echoes” had traveled that far to influence writers whom we would never had thought could be involved in this particular authorship controversy.)


[Page 117]

Why Not Provide His True Identification

in the First Place?


The pseudonymity theory suffers from a lack of motivation.  If pseudo-James is attacking Pauline doctrine concerning saving faith, why doesn’t he make the disagreement clearer and more explicit?  Paul certainly demanded proper Christian morals and behavior and rebuked the lack of it in his various epistles.  He expected and implored for the kind of “works” that prove one’s faith that James presents.  Something far clearer would be required to support a repudiation of Paul’s attitudes.

            The closest one can come to proving that Paul’s doctrine (or a misuse of this doctrine) is being considered is that both Paul and James utilize the example of Abraham:  Paul to prove salvation by faith (Romans 4); James to prove salvation by works.[75]  Yet if the Old Testament provides valid evidence in both directions, why need we assume that the assertion of either represents a repudiation of the other?  Indeed, the evidence for an early date would argue that if there is a “reaction” involved at all, it is far more likely to be upon the part of Paul to a misunderstanding of James’ earlier teaching.

            Furthermore, why would one pick on the name of “James?”[76]  Does it really “lend authority to the work”?[77]  True, Jude introduces himself as “brother of James” (Jude, verse 1).  But if we did not have a book of James, would not that identification seem odd and unexpected? 

            A false attribution to Peter or John might make sense.  But why single out James of all people?  It has been claimed that he was “the hero of heterodox Jewish Christianity”[78] as well as gnostic inclined Gentiles.[79]  The problem is locating the “heresy” in James that is sufficiently clear cut that it would “justify” in his own mind the propriety of claiming that a pseudo-James is writing the epistle.  If it’s there, he’s made it sufficiently subtle that even the “mainstream” church of the following centuries did not [Page 118]   root its doubts in the epistle’s lack of doctrinal soundness.  And if the heresy advocated is to be presented that discretely, why write the letter in the first place? 

            Nothing in the epistle presents him as either an apostle or the kinsman of Jesus.  If written within the life-time of either James, the acceptance of the epistle would be expected because the recipients would know who it was from.  Decades later--long after the individual had died--the mysterious appearance from nowhere of an epistle from a “James” (what James?  when?) would have been too easily dismissed as contemporary religious edification rather than carrying any greater authority. 

In addition, a pseudonymous work pretending to be an earlier writer would normally be characterized by an explicit assertion of personal authority so that the intended identification could not be missed.[80]  He might have called himself “James, bishop of Jerusalem” (to use the title much later generations often applied to him), or “James, the Lord’s brother.”[81]  Yet the epistle we are studying lacks either such attribution.         

        Of course there is always the possibility that it was written by a genuine James at a later date and it was never his intention to represent himself as an earlier writer.[82]  The question would then arise:  from where did he think he had the authority to write an epistle to Jewish Christians at large?  The situation would be much different if we were discussing a personal letter to a specific individual, a case where such self-assertiveness could be quite appropriate.

            In most other New Testament writings the new faith’s doctrines are front and center and quite marked; this is not the case in James.  In order to reconcile the “quiet” Christianity of the epistle which accepts its principles rather than argues for them[83] it has been contended that the epistle is a reworked Jewish work.  In terms of such a theory, our “James” has to be pseudonymous.

            In religiously “moderate to liberal” circles, it was the dominant opinion for decades that the epistle, essentially, fell into this category.  In the 1980s the consensus [Page 119]   began to shift:  some conceded that genuine Jamesian materials were preserved in the letter but weren’t actually committed to writing until long after his death.  When one began to concede a genuine foundation in the teaching of the historical James, the rationale for a later date, however, also began to fragment.

            Today the dominant scholarly judgment is either for late date preservation of early material or a relatively early date composition of the work by the person claiming authorship.  Either way the book reflects genuine Palestinian Christian beliefs before the fall of Jerusalem.[84]

            Among conservative scholars the inclination, of course, has always been to assume such roots for the material and the division has been between which of the Biblical Jameses composed it. 



A “Christianized” Traditional Jewish Work?


            Perhaps the most ingenious attempt at pseudonymity is to consider it as having originally been an Old Testament pseudeprigphal volume presented in the name of Jacob (= James in Greek) and that it is an allegory on events of that Old Testament patriarch’s life.  By such techniques as describing himself as a “bondservant” of both God and Christ (James 1:1), the Christian modifier adapts the document to a new usage.

Even assuming their ethics would stretch so far, one must “push” in order to pull out the parallels from Jacob’s life; an astute sermonizer can certainly do it, but it takes a determined effort and is not an approach that naturally springs from the text of the book itself.[85]  It is, as one scholar concisely words it, a theory that “demands as much eisegesis as exegesis.”[86]         

[Page 120]                  Regardless of the attribution ultimately selected from the above alternatives, his Jewish ethnicity is a given among virtually all writers and commentators.[87]  (For further evidence against the “adaptation” scenario, consult the previous chapter.)







[1] Frances T. Gench, “James,” in The General Letters, in the Proclamation Commentaries, revised and enlarged edition (Minneapolis, Minnesota:  Fortress Press, 1995), 24.


[2] Hartin, James, 21.


[3] Samuel A. Cartledge, A Conservative Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1938; 1941 reprinting), 156.  For the same attitude from a far more theologically liberal perspective see Werner G. Kummel, Introduction to the New Testament, translated from the Fourteenth German Revised Edition (London:  SCM Press, Ltd., 1966), 289-290.  The most generous interpretation Kummel will grant, however, is that “an unknown Christian placed his exhortatory writing” under the name of a recognized authority figure rather than the epistle actually coming from that (earlier) leader (291). 


[4] Scot McKnight, The Letter of James, in the New International Commentary on the New Testament series (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011), 11.  The fact that Paul was angry with Peter--and anger with James is not even [Page 121]   mentioned--argues that there was little if anything legitimate in their invoking of James’ name.  It is almost as if the subtext is:  “Peter, you know that James would never have said anything like that!”


[5] Merrill C. Tenney, New Testament Survey, rev. Walter M. Dunnett (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company/Inter-Varsity Press, 1985), 265.


[6] Cf. Ibid. on the subject.


[7] For speculation on the formal position of James see Ralph Martin, New Testament Foundations:  A Guide for Christian Students; Volume Two:  The Acts, The Letters, the Apocalypse (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 358-360.


[8] Cf. McKnight, James, 16.


[9] Ibid., 18.


[10] John Painter, “Who Was James?  Footprints as a Means of Identification,” in The Brothers of Jesus:  James the Just and His Mission, edited by Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner (Louisville, Kentucky:  Westminster John Knox Press, 20010, 11.


[11] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2.23.4, as quoted by Ibid., 11.


[Page 122]   [12] Cf. the remarks on this theme of E. M. Sidebottom, James, Jude and 2 Peter, in the Century Bible commentary series (new edition) (Camden, New Jersey:  Nelson, 1967), 20.


[13] Gench, 28.


[14] Stevan L. Davies, The New Testament:  A Contemporary Introduction (San Francisco:  Harper & Row, Publishers, 1988), 190.


[15] Vincent P. Branick, Understanding the New Testament and Its Message:  An Introduction (Mahwah, New Jersey:  Paulist Press, 1998), 334.


[16] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, one volume edition (Downers Grove, Illinois:  Inter-Varsity Press, 1970), 749.


[17] Connick, 356; Perrin, 255; A. H. McNeile, An Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, Second Edition, rev. C. S. C. Williams (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1953), 203-204.


[18] Yoder, 1171.  


[Page 123]   [19] Leitch, 136-137.  See the list of of fourteen possible/probable parallels with the contents of the Sermon on the Mount in Guthrie, 743, and the twenty parallels in John Stott, Men with a Message:  An Introduction to the New Testament and Its Writers, rev. Stephen Motyer (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 125.  The validity of specific parallels will be discussed in depth in the next chapter.


[20] Perrin, 256.  


[21] Cornelius Vanderwaal, Hebrews-Revelation, Volume 10 of  Search the Scriptures series (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada:  Paideia Press, 1979), 24-25.    


[22] Martin Dibelius, A Fresh Approach to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature ([Hertford, Great Britain]:  Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1936), 229; Willi Marxsen, Introduction to the New Testament, translated by G. Buswell (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1968; 1980 printing), 129; Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter,and Jude, in the Anchor Bible series (Garden City, New York:  Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), 4.


[23] For themes also found in canonical Old Testament, Essenic, and Talmudic thought, see Edwin D. Freed, The New Testament:  A Critical Introduction (Belmont, California:  Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1986), 382.


[24] Ibid.


[Page 124]   [25] As does Ibid.


[26] Compare (1)  James 2:6-7 with Mark 13:9; (2) James 4:1 with Mark 13:7; (3) James 4:13-14 with Mark 13:32; (4) James 5:9 with Mark 13:29;  (5) James 5:7 with Matthew 24:27.  For a concise survey of the pro-apostle identification from a scholar who concluded it was intriguing but inadequately conclusive see E. H. Plumptre, The General Epistle of St. James, in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge:  At the University Press, 1886), 6-10.  


[27] T. Carson, “Letter of James,” in A New Testament Commentary, ed. G. C. D Howley (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), 568.


[28] Henry C. Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1943; 1989 reprint), 272.


[29] Ibid., 307, argues that First John was written by the apostle John (307).  Second John he regards as similarly apostolic (311) and Third John as well (314) yet he refers to the reservations about the last two in particular.


[30] Ibid., 274.  Cf. Donald W. Burdick, “James,” in Hebrews-Revelation, Volume 12 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Regency Reference Library/Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 161.


[Page 125]   [31] Martin Dibelius, James, rev. Heinrich Treeven, trans. Michael A. Williams, in the series Hermeneia--A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1976), 12.


[32] Thomas W. Leahy, “The Epistle of James,” in The Jerome Biblical Commentary; Volume 2:  The New Testament and Topical Articles, ed.Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Raymond E. Brown (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968), 369.


[33] For a fine concise over-all survey, see Louis Rushmore, “James in Galatians 1:19, Gospel Gazette Online (Volume 6, No. 5; May 2004).  At:  http://www.gospel [July 2012].


[34] David A. Anderson, The Two Ways of the First Century Church (Chapter 8).  Copyright 1989; Revised 12/10/1999.  At:  [July 2012.] 


[35] For further reading, consult the analysis in Dewayne Dulaney, “James the Lord’s Brother—An Apostle?”  Dated August 9, 2007.  Part of Bible Studies in the Digital Age.  At:  http://my.opera. com/Loquor/blog/james-the-lords-brother-apostle.  [July 2012.]


[Page 126]   [36] See the analysis against this argument of Samuel Davidson, An Introduction to the New Testament; Volume Three:  The First Epistle to Timothy to the Revelation (London:  Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1851), 304-305. 


[37] Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, Volume One, translated from the Third German Edition by Melancthon W. Jacobus et al., three volumes in one with separate pagination for each volume, Second Edition, Revised (New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917), 104.


[38] Guthrie, 745.


[39] Davidson, 305.


[40] Ibid.


[41] Stott, 120; Vanderwaal, 23; Howard P. Colson, The Practical Message of James (Nashville, Tennessee:  Broadman Press, 1969), 3-4; Eduard Lohse, The Formation of the New Testament, translated from the third German edition by M. Eugene Boring (Nashville:  Abingdon, 1981), 208.    


[42] Richard Bauckham.  “James and Jesus.”  In The Brothers of Jesus:  James the Just and His Mission, edited by Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, 100-137.  Louisville, Kentucky:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.]  Page 107.


[Page 127]   [43] A. T. Robertson, Practical and Social Aspects of Christianity (New York:  George H. Doran Company, 1915), 23-24.

[44] John Painter, “James and Peter:  Models of Leadership and Mission,” in The Missions of James, Peter, and Paul, edited by Bruce Chilton and Craig Evans, 143-209 (Supplement to Novum Testamentum 115) (Leiden, Netherlands, Brill, 2005), 144.


[45] Ibid., 145.


[46]The approach of Perrin, 256, and Gench, 29, who calls this the view of “a majority of scholars” in the late twentieth century.  Note that this involves the ultimate authorship and does not separate those who regard that person as basing it on authentic Jamesian material—a growing view in the late part of the century.


[47]For a survey of various theories of how this might have come about see David P. Nystrom, James, in the NIV Application Commentary series (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Zondervant Publishing House, 1997), 19-20. 


[48] See references in Blomberg and Kamell, n. 42, page 32.   


[49] See the examples as provided by Perrin, 255.


[50] For examples see Gench, 26.


[Page 128]   [51] McCartney, 5.


[52] See the discussion in John A.T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament ( Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1976), 132-135.  Also consider the evidence mentioned by Yoder, 1171.  


[53] Perrin, 255. 


[54] Ibid.  


[55] For examples see McCartney, 7.


[56] Perrin, 255. 


[57] On the general theme of the possibility of James’ level of Greek skill existing in Palestine see Johnson, 454.


[58] Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Eerdmans, 1964), 366.  C. Leslie Mitton, The Epistle of James (London:  Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1966), 134, directs the reader to such passages as these to prove similar usage outside the Greek tradition:  Proverbs 8:1; Proverbs 23:29; Isaiah 50:10; Luke 11:11; Romans 11:1-7.  


[Page 129]   [59] For specific examples of the characteristics of the “diatribe” and the greater moderation of the style in the hands of a writer such as James see Sidebottom, 2-3.


[60] Richard Bauckham, in The Brothers of Jesus:  James the Just and His Mission, edited by Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner (Louisville, Kentucky:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 102.


[61] Ibid.,


[62] For a discussion by an individual who thinks both forms of argument are over-rated, see Robinson, 130.  For a positive assessment of the linguistic linkage of the James of Acts and the James of the epistle see Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament,  Revised Edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Academie Books/Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 324-325.


[63] Catherine Hezser, Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, in the series Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism, 81 (Tubingen, Germany:  Mohr Siebeck, 2001), 230, 231.


[64] Ibid., 230.


[65] Ibid., 231,


[Page 130]   [66] Ibid.


[67] Ibid.


[68] For a survey of various conclusions, see Ibid., 231-234.


[69] Ibid., 243.


[70] Lohse, 209.  Lohse does concede, however. that James uses “Hebraisms” but insists that those are due to acquaintance with the Greek Septuagint rather than any personal knowledge of Hebrew (209).


[71] Hezser, 230.

[72] Ibid.

[73] James 5:12 is cited in particular by Bowman, 94.


[74] Ibid.


[75] Joseph F. Kelly, Why Is There a New Testament?  (Wilmington, Delaware:  Michael Glazier, Inc., 1986), 59.


[Page 131]   [76] Thiessen, 273.


[77] As claimed by Francis B. Rhein, Understanding the New Testament, Revised Edition (Woodbury, New York:  Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1974), 325.  In a similar vein see R. R. Williams, The Letters of John and James, in the Cambridge Bible Commentary:  New English Bible series (Cambridge:  At the University Press, 1965), 95. 


[78] For examples see Sophie Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James, in the Black’s New Testament Commentaries series (London:  Adam & Charles Black, 1980), 41.  


[79] For examples see Ibid., 41-42. 


[80] Barclay M. Newman, The Meaning of the New Testament (Nashville, Tennessee:  1966), 270.


[81] For various forms the elaboration on the name could have taken see Gloag, 27.


[82] Cf. Martin, 363-364; Donald J. Selby, Introduction to the New Testament:  “The Word Became Flesh” (New York:  Macmillan Company, 1971) 431.


[83] Robinson, 119-120.


[Page 132]   [84] Bauckham, “James and Jesus.” 101-102.


[85] For a summary of one approach to the James as an allegory of Joseph’s life, see the mildly skeptical summary of Barclay M. Newman, The Meaning of the New Testament.  Nashville, Tennessee:  1966, 270.


[86] Harrison, 367.


[87] One of the extremely few exceptions is Samuel Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament, Augmented Edition (New York:  KTAV Publishing House, Inc./Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, 1974), 219, who provides no argumentation for the claim, simply contenting himself with the assertion that “nothing in the book” actually “preclude[s] it having been written about the year 100 by a Gentile Christian” (219).