Wednesday, December 24, 2008

James - Day 2

So we move forward in our study of James.

I just did some basic background research on what we know about the author, his reason for writing, and the historical situation. And obviously, there may be some disagreements, but I will simply do my best as I am forced to depend on the few written resources that I have.

The author of the book is probably James, and most believe this James to be the older brother of Jesus. He is believed to have written this sometime between 40 A.D. and 60 A.D, after a number of years of church leadership in Jerusalem.

At this point in history, an oppressive Roman government had a reputation of persecuting Christians because of their "disloyalty" to the Roman government. And James was without a doubt writing to Christians affected by this.

More specifically, James was probably writing to Jews who had converted to Christianity. And this explains most of the topics he covers. Those Christians in particular had a reputation for trying to get by with simply "intellectual agreement" being the same as faith. In his writing, as we have already seen, James stresses action. More than just belief.

Some believe also that James wrote after seeing some of Paul's letters in order to sort of offset Paul's emphasis on faith, in a sense. Not to contradict him (or maybe he was trying to; I don't know), but to show people that just staying at home and believing certain facts to be true was not enough. (Interesting... that sounds familiar.)

The only observation I made on my own without outside help was simply that James was really old when he wrote this. I am lead to believe even that he wrote this with a thought that his death was coming soon. He was probably close to 50 years old. It's almost as if he wanted to get this message out before it was too late.

As we can see, these few observations already connect with some of the thoughts I had on day 1. Also, we can see that American Christians today have something to learn from James: knowing nice things about Jesus doesn't cut it. That's probably why we like Paul so much. He's nicer about that kind of stuff when we don't look into it too much.

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