The Writing of the Epistle.
The Epistle of James was probably written shortly before the Jerusalem Conference, most probably just before, that is, about A. D. 48 or 49. There is no room here for an extended discussion of the proof of this statement. In general I agree with the arguments of Mayor on this point. Plummer is unable to decide between A. D. 49 and A. D. 59. Writers like von Soden place it at the end of the century, and Bruckner puts it in the second century. Spitta admits that Paul, in Romans, alludes to the Epistle of James, but suggests that the present epistle is a Christian adaptation of a Jewish book. But on the whole the weight of the argument is towards the conclusion that James wrote the Epistle before the Conference and without reference to the Judaizing controversy. Paul, in Galatians and Romans, may very well have in mind a misuse of what James, in chap. 2, says about faith and works, which misapprehension he seeks to correct. The Epistle must either be placed between 40 and 50 A. D., before the Judaizing controversy arose, or in the middle of the second century, after it had died down. The early date has the best of it in my opinion.
If this date for the writing of the Epistle be correct, we have no difficulty in seeing how James could have written it so early. Already about A. D. 44 we saw his leadership in the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17). No man in the apostolic circles at this period had the ear of the Jewish Christians as did James. This is seen further in the fact that he is asked to preside over the Conference in Jerusalem to settle the issues raised by the Judaizers against the work of Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles. The Epistle, therefore, seems to come in at this stage of the career of James and is the chief expression left of his mind and life.
From Practical and Social Aspects of Christianity - The Wisdom of James by A.T. Robertson, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012. The update is not complete.
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Wisdom of James - A.T. Robertson
ON THE BOOK SHELF
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