Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Exposition on Aquinas' Summa theologiae, IIa IIae q. 23 a. 1

The Secunda pars[1] is subdivided into two sections: the Prima secundae[2] and the Secunda secundae. The Secunda secundae moves from the general moral principles to what might be called Christian moral living. It examines in greater detail concepts introduced in the Prima pars, namely the “cardinal virtues”[3] of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, which are relevant to all humans. Then Thomas moves to those virtues specific to the Christian life, namely the “theological virtues” [4]  of faith, hope, and charity. Charity, for Thomas, is the central notion to the development of his argument in the Secunda secundae, because “it is the form of all the virtues” (IIa IIae q. 23, a.8). Thus, it is within charity that people attain to their proper end (Beatitudo). Therefore, charity is the greatest of all the virtues because its end is supernatural; in that, through it we come to love God for himself and also love that which God loves (IIa IIae q. 23, a.6; q. 25, a.1). 
Question IIa IIae q. 23 a. 1 examines the nature of charity and raises the question as to whether charity constitutes friendship (amicitia). Thomas answers that, yes, charity is friendship, insofar as charity is a love which is benevolent as regards its object. Following Aristotle[5], Thomas defines friendship as love for someone so as to wish good for them, rather than for ourselves. This stands in contrast to concupiscence which “loves” an object merely as it relates to the subject (e.g. a person’s love of wine). For Thomas, the idea that one could love wine of itself is absurd. To say that one loves wine is merely to say that one loves what is induced in the subject as a result of the wine. Charity, however, entails some sort of communicative relationship between subjects in which there is a mutual sense of benevolence. In this sense, friendship is only available between rational agents. Accordingly, because God communicates the benevolent gift of himself to humanity, through our fellowship with Christ, this communication constitutes friendship. Thus, charity is the friendship between God and humanity. This point is seconded by the sed contra statement, which quotes John 15:15: “I will not now call you servants…but My friends.” The sed contra indicates that this was said to the disciples for no other reason than charity, presumably because the argument seems to assume that Jesus had no “need” of friends. It may be concluded thus—at least in so far as the argument is concerned—that charity is friendship.    
Preliminary Argument 1 contends that charity is not friendship. Based upon a quote from Aristotle[6], the interlocutor concludes that friends tend to dwell with each other. However, when placed in conversation with Dan. 2:11, which says that, “[God’s] dwelling is not with men,” it would seem that this would preclude the possibility of charity being friendship between human beings and God. In response, Thomas replies that human beings are not unidimensional, but are rather composite, possessing both corporeal and spiritual natures. With respect to our corporeal/sensitive nature humans cannot be said to have fellowship with the Divine. However, with respect to our spiritual life, as a result of our rational nature, human beings can be said to have fellowship with both God and angels. While in this life such fellowship is necessarily limited[7], Thomas believed that in heaven the saints would possess perfect charity.[8]   
Preliminary Argument 2 contends, based upon a quote from Aristotle[9], that “there is no friendship without return of love.”  However, when placed in conversation with Jesus’s command in Matt. 5:44 to “Love your enemies,” it becomes difficult to maintain that charity could be said to constitute friendship. This is because, according to this argument, if love is not reciprocated by the individual receiving the love it is not truly friendship. In response, Thomas replies that friendship may extend to a person in two ways: first, to the person directly and secondarily—as a consequence of the former—to any individuals associated with that person (e.g. any friend of x is a friend of mine). Thomas seems to assume that friendship extends necessarily and absolutely to individuals by association, even if they happen to hate us. While we may not be as inclined to call such individuals “friends” as perhaps Thomas was, the notion that we may be inclined to a degree of obligation towards such individuals as a result of our mutual relationship is not farfetched.[10] From this assumption, Thomas moves to conclude that charity can be said to constitute friendship with one’s enemies—not in so far as they are our enemies—but in so far as they are God’s children. Thus, we have friendship with God directly and we are therefore able to have charity for even our enemies for God’s sake.
Preliminary Argument 3 explicates the 2nd Argument by use of Aristotle’s 3 categories of friendship: directed respectively towards the useful, the delightful, and the virtuous. The useful friendship is the one possessed for its utility. The delightful friendship is maintained for the pleasure it brings. However, both of these forms are superficial and cannot relate to true friendship which St. Jerome indicated was based upon fear of God and the study of the Divine Scriptures. Neither can charity be the virtuous form of friendship, because through charity we love our enemies and that is not the function of friendship. According to Aristotle, the virtuous friendship can only be had between virtuous men. Therefore, charity cannot be friendship. In response, Thomas refers to his contention that to love someone is to love those in relationship with them. He concludes that the friendship is directed to the virtuous person, but extends to those in relationship to him, regardless as to whether or not the individuals themselves are virtuous. In charity we love for God’s sake.        

[1] The second treatise or major division of the Summa theologae.
[2] The first of two divisions of the secundae pars or the ‘Treatise on Ethics,’ which has to do with ethics in general (i.e. the foundations of ethics).
[3] ST I-II.Q. 61. see also , Plato, Protagoras 330b;  Wisdom of Solomon 8:7; Augustine, De Civitate Dei IV, 20, et al.
[4] ST I-II. Q. 62; 1 Cor. 13:13
[5] Nicomachean Ethics. viii 2, 3 
[6] Nicomachean Ethics. viii 5
[7] Phil. 3:20
[8] Apoc. 22:3, 4
[9] Nicomachean Ethics. viii 3
[10] See M. Friedman, "The Practice of Partiality." Ethics, 7 1991: 818-835. See also S. Scheffler, "Relationships and Responsibilities." Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1997, Summer: 189-209.

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Exposition on Aquinas' Summa theologiae, I-II. 2, art. 8

Within the Summa theologiae, Thomas begins his discussion of human ‘wellfullness’ (Beatitudo)[1] with the first question of the prima secundae.[2] Following the customary orderings of topics within medieval compendiums on theology,[3] Thomas has already within the prima pars,[4] investigated the nature and extent of Sacra Doctrina.[5] This provides a foundation before proceeding on to the secundae pars’s [6] discussion of human action.
The first question of the prima secundae establishes that human beings act for a telos or end, the ultimate end being God. Thomas believes that, it is with the acquisition of this end that human beings are said to reach a perfected wellfullness or fulfillment. Question 2 of the prima secundae concerns ‘those things, in which man’s happiness consists,’ that is to say, those things needed in order to reach this end (i.e. fulfillment). Articles 1-7 of question 2 establish that humankind’s wellfullness does not consist in natural wealth, honor, human fame/glory, power, any bodily good, pleasure, or even something pertaining to the soul itself. The conclusion thus drawn for Thomas in the course of the articles is that fulfillment cannot be said to consist in the mere acquisition of any created good.
Preliminary Argument 1 (Objection 1) of Ia IIae q.2a.8 contends—based upon a quote from Dionysius[7] (vii)—that, (1) The summit of the lower nature (human) touches the base of the higher nature (the divine) (2) the angels are the base of the higher nature (C) therefore, man’s happiness consists in reaching the status of the angels. The premises of this argument rely heavily on a particular reading of the quotation from Dionysius and are not logically demonstrable proofs. However, in his reply, Thomas demonstrates that even if the premises are taken at face value, the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises. Thomas’s reply to Preliminary Argument 1 is that wellfullness will not be reached by simply attaining to the status of the angels. It must seek the ultimate good in order to be perfected. Bearing a kind of likeness to the angelic therefore is merely a way station on the path towards our place in God, not an end within itself.
Preliminary Argument 2 contends—based on Aristotle’s Physics (viii, 2)—that, (1) perfection is the completion of a whole by its parts (2) man is a part of the universe (C) therefore, man’s happiness consists in seeking the good of the universe. Thomas’s reply to Preliminary Argument 2 is that the universe is not an end in itself, but rather is ordained to an end by God. For Thomas, it is a truism that fulfillment can only be found in the last end, because if there exists a further end, then human fulfillment would naturally seek the further end. Thus, the universe cannot be the last end, because God is beyond the universe; to think otherwise, for Thomas, is to seek fulfillment in something which is, in itself, simply vacuous.   
Preliminary Argument 3 contends that: (1) a man is made fulfilled (beatus) by the fact that his natural desire comes to rest. (2) But man’s natural desire does not extend to a greater good than he himself is able grasp or to take possession of. (C) Therefore, since man is not capable of a good that exceeds the limits of all of creation (limites totius creaturae); it seems that man can be made fulfilled by some created good. Consequently, man’s beatitude lies in some created good. Thomas’s reply is that created things have good, in so far as they participate in God’s goodness, but this kind of goodness by association, is contracted and limited.
Thomas’s sed contra statement quotes Augustine[8] saying, “As the soul is the life of the body, so God is man’s life of happiness.” In this statement, Augustine is drawing an analogy by saying essentially that, just as the soul is to the body, so God is to the soul. That is, in the same way that the soul vivifies the body, so God vivifies the soul in the form of Grace. Therefore, because humankind’s fulfillment lies within God through the gift of grace, it cannot be said to be located in a created good. The quotation from Psalms 143:15 which closes the sed contra seems rather incidental in light of the former quote.
Thomas’s ultimate answer to the question of whether any created good constitutes man’s happiness is a resounding no. This is because, wellfullness for Thomas implies perfection. Perfection is here referred to in the sense of a completion or cessation of human appetite through the acquisition of the will’s proper last end, namely God. For Thomas, the human will necessarily desires its own perfection/fulfillment. This being the case, we are all in a sense hardwired to strive for the universal good.[9] Conversely, if anything were left to be desired beyond God, the human appetite would incline itself to its acquisition. However, God—being the ultimate good—is necessarily the object of all human striving.  For Thomas, every creature possesses some measure of goodness, but only in so far as it participates in God’s goodness. Thus, to seek after a created thing as an independent source for one’s own fulfillment is a misguided undertaking, because any individual instance of goodness has to be instantiated by its participation in that which is ‘the good itself.’  

[1] Beatitudo, often translated as ‘happiness’ in English, roughly corresponds to the Greek, εὐδαιμονία (eudemonia), “human flourishing” or “well-being.”
[2] The first of two divisions of the secundae pars or the ‘Treatise on Ethics,’ which has to do with ethics in general (i.e. the foundations of ethics).
[3] Beginning with Peter Lombard’s magnum opus, Libri Quattuor Sententiarum, medieval works on theology were oftentimes arranged in four fold divisions treating God, Creation, Christ, and the Sacraments as distinct categories for the purpose of organization. Many scholastic theologians wrote commentaries on the Sentences, including Aquinas’ own early work, Scriptum super libros Sententiarum. 
[4] The first treatise or major division of the Summa theologae.
[5] Those things pertaining to God, creation, and the government of creatures.
[6] The second treatise or major division of the Summa theologae.
[7] Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, De Divinis Nominibus (vii)
[8] Augustine, De Civitate Dei (xix, 26)
[9] Thomas assumes, along with Plato and Augustine, that no person can truly will their own harm. Self-destructive behavior is thus the result of a person seeking what seems to them to be their own good through some inordinate or improper means.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Favoring the Merciless?: The Themes of Justice and Partiality in James 2:1-13

First Discourse: Faith and Behavior (2:1-26)
The first verse of the James Ch. 2 introduces the two principal concerns addressed in this portion of the letter: favoritism (developed in 2:1-13) and faith (2:14-26). These apparently disparate topics are tied together by the author through the conviction that if the Lord does not show partiality, then favoritism should be anathema to those who claim the faith of Jesus Christ. To this end, the author of James utilizes a series of what have been described by M. Dibelius and others as diatribe-like segments extending from Ch. 2—4 (Dibelius, James, 124). These “diatribal” sections are characterized by an opening rhetorical question or prohibition (cf. 2:1; 2:14; 3:1; 3:12a; 3:13; 4:1; 4:11) and a closing aphorism, encapsulating the author’s main point (cf. 2:13; 2:26; 3:12b; 3:18; 4:10; 4:12). For our purposes we will be focusing on Part 1 (2:1-13)[1] of James’ “First Discourse” (2:1-26), with particular emphasis on the relationship of v. 13 to the rest of this rhetorical unit.[2]  
Part 1: Faith and Favoritism (2:1-13)
James 2:1 begins with an apotreptic[3] appeal to act in a manner consonant with “genuine faith” (i.e. the faith of Christ[4]). This section of James consists of an impassioned argument against showing partiality in the assembly. The author contends that such acts of favoritism constitute both a denial of the faith of Christ (2:1) and a clear contravention of the “royal law” (2:8). Further to the point, those who act without such mercy in judgment should not expect to receive mercy themselves (2:13; cf. Matt 5:7; Luke 6:36). On this account, Christians should be expected to exhibit the Lord’s character, as God’s children begotten through the Word (1:18). Therefore, if the Lord demonstrates no partiality to those of a higher economic/social status, neither then should his children (cf. Deut. 1:16-17; 10:17; Lev 19:15). Here James addresses a problem (alluded to in 1:9-10), namely, that wealth itself can become a barrier to the practice of genuine faith. James, therefore, stands firmly within the tradition of both the Hebrew Scripture [5] and Jesus [6] in his contention that God shows a special concern for the poor, for it is they who will be heirs of the kingdom (2:5).[7] Thus, by delineating the terms of what instantiates “genuine faith,” the author sets the stage for his attack on the hypocrisy of “dead faith” which James famously develops in 2:14-26. 
Exegesis and Exposition
Section 1: Faith and Favoritism (2:1-7)
2:1. My brothers (and sisters), do not hold the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ together with acts of favoritism. 2. For if a man comes into your gathering with gold rings, dressed in splendid apparel, and also a poor man comes in, dressed in filthy rags, 3. And you look upon him who wears the splendid apparel, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and to the poor man you say, “You stand over there or sit at my footstool,”[8] [9] 4. Have you not made a distinction amongst yourselves and become judges with evil designs? 5. Listen my beloved brothers, has God not chosen the poor of the world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him? 6. But you treat the poor shamefully! Is it not the rich who exploit you and drag you into courts? 7. Do they not blaspheme the good name which has been invoked over you?    

Chapter 2 begins with a prohibition followed by a hypothetical scenario[10]  and a series of rhetorical questions. The directive given in 2:1 is a general prohibition which his audience would have, no doubt, found difficult to confute.[11] Thus, this imperative becomes the basis of the author’s remonstrance of his audience and the call to alter their behavior. Here the author continues with the theme of behavioural consistency introduced in the former chapter by moving to demonstrate the incompatibility of holding the faith of Jesus Christ together with προσωπολημψίαις, “acts of partiality/favouritism.[12]
Προσωπολημψίαις is a compound formed from the LXX translation of the Hebrew idiom, פָּנִים נָשָׂא, which rendered literally means, ‘receive the face.’[13][14] Among its meanings within the HB, the phrase came to denote, “Respect of persons,” which could possess a positive/indifferent connotation[15] or a negative connotation, as in improper partiality. Προσωπολημψίαις, as well as its closely related cognates προσωπολημπτέω and προσωπολήμπτης, have so far only been found amongst Christian writers, thus it would appear to be a part of early uniquely Christian nomenclature.[16] James’ warnings against contempt for the poor also carries over a theme common in the HB and the Deuterocanonical writings (cf. Lev 19:15; Prov 22:22; Mal 2:9; Sir. 10:23, etc.). These texts additionally demonstrate the incompatibility of partiality with God (cf. Job 34:19, Sir. 35:13, etc.).
James follows the directive in v. 2:1 with a hypothetical scenario in vv. 2:2-3, in which members of the assembly show προσωπολημψίαις towards ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ, “a man with gold rings, [dressed] in splendid apparel,” while showing disrespect to πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι, “[a] poor [man dressed] in filthy rags.” James presents the two visitors occasioning the gathering in starkly different terms. The former is extravagantly bedecked with the exterior trappings of worldly success, while the latter appears destitute in filthy/soiled rags.  The adjective χρυσοδακτύλιος, more than merely signifying affluence, may be an indicator of aristocratic rank.[17] In which case, social convention would customarily dictate preferential treatment. Thus, James is not merely appealing to common courtesy in his entreaties for equality, but may be rather calling for a fundamental break with the traditional civic order. Additionally, it is interesting that the adjective λαμπρᾷ, meaning “radiating light,” or “glistening,”[18] used to describe the rich man’s clothing, is the same word used to describe the robes of angels in Acts 10:30 and Rev 15:6. This description juxtaposed to the πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι could not be more abrupt. Πτωχὸς, usually indicates one living in extreme poverty, a beggar.[19] The imagery occasioned by the proximity of the word ῥυπαρᾷ, meaning, “vile,” “defiled,” to ἐσθῆτι, “clothing,” is to provide a picture of one clad in befouled rags (see BDAG, p. 908); in this case, contrasted to a man dressed in shimmering robes.
The rich man is shown to a seat of honor, while the poor man is relegated to a seat on the floor. James then asks contemptuously, οὐ διεκρίθητε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς καὶ ἐγένεσθε κριταὶ διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν;Have you not made a distinction amongst yourselves and become judges with evil designs?” James’ use of διεκρίθητε, the second person aor. act. indicative form of διακρίνω (“to differentiate” “pass judgment,” “render a decision”), depicts his audience as unscrupulous judges passing unjust judgment on the poor. James deftly employs this imagery in v.6 when he reminds his audience that it is the rich who exploit them and drag them into “court” (κριτήρια, from the word κρίνω, “to judge,” “to prefer”[20]). Here James creates a contrast in which he identifies the victims of such treatment—namely, the poor—as “heirs of the kingdom,” while identifying the perpetrators with the exploitative rich. Thus, he makes it clear that to show favor to the rich—and thereby pass judgment on the poor—is to exclude one’s self from the kingdom.                           
Section 2: Faith and Law (2:8-13)
8. If indeed you keep the royal law, according to the Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. 9. But if you practice favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10. For whoever endeavors to observe the whole law, yet stumbles in one thing, he has become liable to all of them. 11. For the one who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, yet commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12. So speak and so do as though you are about to be judged by the law of freedom. 13. For judgment is merciless to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.     

            The particles μέντοι[21] in v. 8: “If indeed you keep the royal law…” and δέ in v. 9:But if you practice favoritism…” form a correlative clause and should be taken as indicating an emphatic opposition. The adjective βασιλικὸν in v. 8 can be taken several different ways, including, as that which is “kingly” or that which belongs to a king (e.g. “the king’s commandments,” cf. 2 Macc 4:25). L.T. Johnson, however, suggests that the phrase should perhaps be taken as signifying the “law of the kingdom,” given its relative proximity to βασιλείας in v. 2:5. What does seem clear from the context, however, is the phrase’s predication of the whole law (ὅλος ό νόμος) as “royal,” as opposed to a single “commandment” (ἐντολή). James’ explicit quote of Lev 19:18c, ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” therefore, may be said to stand-in for the “whole law” as the summation of the Torah (cf. Matt 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; b. Šabb. 31a). The unity of the law—such that a violation of one command makes one liable to all—lies within the Jewish conception of the law as an expression of God’s will (cf. b. Šabb.70b; b. Hor. 8b).[22] Therefore, a violation of any precept, great or small, makes one equally a transgressor of the law (cf. 4:11-12). James goes on to reference two of the commands issued in the Decalogue, namely killing and adultery,[23] before admonishing his audience to act as though they were going to be judged (κρίσεως) by the law of freedom (νόμου ἐλευθερίας).
            The concluding verse of James’ first discourse appears to grow naturally from the author’s exhortation that the audience should align their actions with the law of freedom through its particular expression in the concern for one’s neighbor (in this case, the neighbor being the πτωχὸς). The vocabulary and gnomic[24] quality of this verse, however, has led some, including M. Dibelius to conclude that the verse should be taken as an isolated statement, rather than the summation of an otherwise coherent argument. Dibelius draws this conclusion based on his assessment that “there is a difference between ‘to show mercy’ (ποιεῖν ἔλεος) and ‘to treat the poor justly’” (Dibelius, James, 147). He further states that, if the preceding verses dealt with “the love of one’s neighbor,” then v. 13 only speaks of a particular manifestation of that love—namely the showing of mercy—and is “in no way the same as that which is called for in 2:1ff.” The content of v. 13, thus, provides no special support for the leading themes of the preceding verses. “Therefore, the connections which most interpreters see between this verse and what precedes are in actuality merely read into the text” (ibid.).
The significance of Dibelius’ 1921 commentary on Jamesian research can hardly be overstated. To this day it exercises such magisterial influence as to be the source by which all other subsequent work on James is judged. Nevertheless, his assertion on this count appears to lacks both explanatory power and a sufficient analysis of James’ use of rhetoric. As has already been noted, the function of the aphorisms closing the respective treatises/discourses is primarily to reiterate the author’s main point in the rhetorical unit. So, even if we allow Dibelius’ contention that v. 13 provides “no special support” to the themes of the first discourse that, in itself, is insufficient to support his conclusion. Additionally, we might wonder about the phrase’s isolated placement within the letter if, in fact, it had no particular relationship to what comes before or after it.[25] Certainly, it would be reasonable to conclude that, at least in the mind of its author, the phrase did not stand as an isolated maxim marooned betwixt two structured discourses. Rather, it must have served some purpose in furthering the argument. Wachob concludes that the author’s purpose in this conlusio is twofold: it recapitulates the main argument (repetitio) and it seeks “to arouse emotions (adfectus) that favorably dispose the audience to accept the speaker’s case” (Wachob, 105). It is therefore an elaboration of the judgment to be had under the law of freedom and a further indictment of those who continue to act in a manner inconsonant with the faith of Christ.  
So, is Dibelius correct when he concludes that, “there is a difference between ‘to show mercy’ (ποιεῖν ἔλεος) and ‘to treat the poor justly’?” Why would the author of James not simply say something like, “Judgment is merciless to the one who has not shown justice. Justice triumphs over judgment”? Why the introduction of ἔλεος, a word not used to this point in the passage? The answers to these questions lie within the semantic relationship which exists between the words ἔλεος and κρίσις; a relationship which is both well established and demonstrable.
The TDNT notes that, “It is typical that the emotion of ἔλεος plays a great part in the administration of justice,” for “the accused must seek to arouse the ἔλεος of the judge” (H. Beyer, “ἔλεος, ἐλεέω, κτλ,” TDNT 2:477-485).[26] In Matt 23:23, Jesus explicitly ties ἔλεος and κρίσις together with πίστιν, as representing “the weightier matters of the law” [βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου] (cf. Matt 18:33 and Luke 10:37). This point of sematic relationship may be further argued when one considers that ἔλεος in the LXX is most frequently used to translate חֶסֶד (“faithfulness,” loving-kindness,” “mercy”). [27] Therefore, given the semantic extension of ἔλεος to also signify “loving-kindness” and “faithfulness,” (cf. Luke 1:58; Eph 2:4; 1 Pet 1:3) Dibelius’ assertion that v. 13 only speaks of a particular manifestation of the love for one’s neighbor—namely the showing of mercy—as opposed to the general command against any form of partiality given in v. 1ff is simply untenable. Indeed, James’ choice of words for the summation of this first discourse, far from being misplaced, is rather a poignant conclusion. This is because προσωπολημψίαις constitutes a clear rejection of mercy, loving-kindness, and faithfulness (above all that faith/faithfulness claimed through the example of Jesus Christ).[28]     

Appendix: The Text of James
At present, the earliest copies of the complete text of James are the fourth-century Greek uncials Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Sinaiticus (א), and the fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus (A). In addition, there are a number of fragmentary 3rd century Egyptian papyri manuscripts, including: P23 (which contains 1:10-12, 15-18) and P20 (2:19—3:2, 4-9); P54, a 5th—6th century text (2:16-18, 21-26; 3:2-4), P74, from the 6th—7th century, contains nearly the entire letter of James (1:1-6, 8-19, 21-23, 25; 1:27—2:15, 18-22; 2:25—3:1, 5-6, 10-12, 14; 3:17—4:8, 11-14; 5:1-3, 7-9, 12-14, 19-20). There are no extant Western texts[29] among the textual witnesses to James’ epistle. This may be due in part to its relative obscurity during the first few centuries of the church.[30] Nevertheless, additional Greek texts containing portions of James do exist, extending from the fifth through the ninth-centuries: 6, 42, 69, 104 contain portions; (C) contains 1:1—4:2; 0166 contains 1:11; 0173 contains 1:25-27; (K), (L), (P), (Ψ), 33, 326, 81, 1175, and 1739 all contain the complete epistle. In addition, the text of James is also found preserved in languages such as Syrian (Peshitta, Philoxenian, Harclean, and Palestinian [1:1-12 only]), Coptic (Sahidic and Bohairic), Vulgar Latin, Armenian, Ethiopic, and Old Latin (itff [Corbeiensis], its [Bobbiensis], itm [Pseudo-Augustine], and itp [Perinianus]).  The text of James itself is rather uniform possessing relatively few textual variants. Some difficulties do arise in 1:3, 12, 17, 19, 27; 2:3, 19, 20; 3:3, 9, 12; 4:4, 5, 14; 5:4, 7, 16, 20.[31]


Davids, Peter H. The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistle of James. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1982.
Dibelius, Martin. James: A Commentary on the Epistle of James. 11th. Edited by H. Koester. Translated by M.A. Williams. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975.
Hartin, Patrick J. Sacra Pagina Series: James. Edited by S.J. Daniel J. Harrington. Vol. 14. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2003.
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Anchor Bible: The Letter of James, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 37A. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
Johnson, Luke Timothy. "The Use of Leviticus 19 in the Letter of James." In Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.
Johnson, Luke Timothy, and Wesely Wachob. "The Sayings of Jesus in the Letter of James." In Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James, by Luke Timothy Johnson, 136-154. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 2004.
Laws, Sophie. A Commentary on the Epistle of James. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980.
McCartney, Dan G. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: James. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.
McKnight, Scot. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Letter of James. Edited by Gordon D. Fee. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2011.
Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft United Bible Societies, 1971.
Metzger, Bruce M., and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 4th. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Ropes, James Hardy. The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and NewTestaments: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St. James. Edited by Francis Brown and Alfred Plummer. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916.
Wachob, Wesley Hiram. The Voice of Jesus in the Social Rhetoric of James. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

[1]Although pointing to the diatribe-like nature of these sermonic portions of James, Dibelius admits that  James itself is not properly a diatribe, but rather possesses elements which resemble many common features of the genre (such as apostrophes, rhetorical questions, and examples). Indeed, 2:1-13 might be said to be the least diatribal Abhandlund (“treatise”) within the unit (Dibelius, p. 39-50). For more on the nature of James’ rhetoric, see (Wachob, The Voice of Jesus in the Social Rhetoric of James).
[2] The outline given above follows that of McCartney (see McCartney, James, 132-133).
[3] Rhetorical devise, designed to dissuade.
[4] Though the majority of translators would render the phrase in 2:1 as an objective genitive, both W. Wachob and L.T. Johnson render the phrase as a subjective genitive, pointing to the “theocentric” nature of the letter as being incongruent with interpreting the phrase as “faith in Christ.” According to this interpretation, James’ audience is being “admonished to hold (ἔχειν) a faith that in quality is like the faith-obedience of Jesus Christ” (Wachob, The Voice of Jesus in the Social Rhetoric of James, 65; Johnson, The Letter of James, 220). This may be more appropriate given James’ definition of genuine faith as that faith grounded in acts of obedience (e.g. 1:21, 25, 27; 2:14, 17, 22, 26; 4:12a; 5:19-20).
[5] E.g., Exod 22:21-26; Prov 18:23; 19:17;  22:9, 16, 22, 27; 28:3, 6, 8, 11, 15, 20; Job 29:12-16; 31:14-28; Isa 1:17; 10:1-4; Zech 7:10; Amos 4:1; 5:11; 8:6; Jer 2:34; Ezek 18:17; etc.
[6] E.g., Mark 10:21; 12:41-44; Matt 11:5; 19:21-24; Luke 4:18; 6:20-21; 11:41; 14:12-13; 21:1-3; 16:19-31; etc.
[7] L.T. Johnson and W. Wachob conclude that, “James 2:5 is one of James’s most important parallels to a Jesus logion.” “From a rhetorical perspective, it appears that James has adapted a Jesus beatitude (Matt 5:3 = Luke 6:20b) and partially recited it for his own persuasive purposes. Besides James 2:5, there are four other performances of the saying in question. These are Matt 5:3; Luke 6:20b; GThom §54; and Polycarp, Phil. 2:3. All five performances share two key terms: “the poor” and “the kingdom.” Moreover, all five performances exploit the common terms to produce sentences that feature one common denominator—“God’s kingdom is promised to the poor” (Johnson and Wachob, The Sayings of Jesus in the Letter of James, 146-147).
[8] According to Metzger’s Commentary, “The reading which, in the opinion of a majority of the Committee, best explains the origin of the others is that supported by A, C*, Ψ, 33, 81, 614, 630, 2495, vg syrh al: Σὺ στῆθι ἐκεῖ ἢ κὰθου (“ ‘Stand there’ or ‘Sit [by my footstool]’ ”). Obviously secondary (though it supports the position of ἐκεῖ after στῆθι) is ἐκεῖ κὰθου ὧδε (P74vid, א, C2, K, P, 049, 056, 0142, most minuscules syrp al) where ὧδε creates a better parallelism and expresses explicitly what is otherwise implied—namely, that the place ὑπὸ τὸὑ ποπὸδιὸν μου is thought of as nearer the speaker than the place indicated by the command στῆθι ἐκεῖ. Not recognizing this, B and several other witnesses (including 1739) transposed ἐκεῖ so as to produce a parallelism of two (rather than three) references to places” (Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 680-681).
[9] Dibelius suggests that “by/at my foot(stool),” should be taken as a figure of speech, merely indicating “on the floor” (Dibelius, James, 132).
[10] The conclusion that this scenario is hypothetical rather than actual stems from its general or encyclical nature. If James is in fact a letter addressed to a specific community, it betrays none of the typical characteristics which we might expect of such a letter, including a more specific salutation, some indication of the purpose for writing (i.e. community circumstances; cf. 1 Cor 5), valediction, etc. Indeed, the flagrant example of partiality—no doubt meant to shock the sensibilities—fits better within a hypothetical framework, than as a report of an actual instance.  
[11] This is the case, because the author does not present this conviction as a thesis to be defended but as a truism to be recognized and enacted. The deficiency of the audience, therefore, does not lie in their cognitive acquisition of the principal, but rather in their failure to act in accordance with its implications.   
[12] Cf. Rom 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col. 3:25; Polyc. Phil. 6:1; TestJob 43:13.
[13] πρόσωπον λαβεῖν, (Lev 19:15, Ps. 82:2, etc.).
[14] J. Marty and M. Dibelius both suggested a possible dependence of James on some form of Jewish paraenesis based on Lev. 19, such as Pseudo-Phocylides. Though denying literary dependence, both Pieter van der Horst and L.T. Johnson have noted the resemblance between James and Pseudo-Phocylides’ use of Leviticus (Johnson, The Use of Leviticus 19 in the Letter of James, 123-135). 
[15] Cf. 2 Kgs 5:1; Isa 3:3; etc.
[16] Cf. Jas 2:9; Acts 10:34; 1 Pet 1:17; Clem. Rom. 1:3; Barn. 4:12.
[17] Sophie Laws has pointed out that the gold ring was part of the insignia of the equestrian order, the second rank of Roman aristocracy. Equestrians were customarily wealthy because there was a property qualification for the acquisition of the rank and they oftentimes were recipients of civil offices such as procurator. Such persons would have been covetable patrons for a minority group such as the Christians, who might be seeking legitimization and recognition (Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James, 98). This of course is speculative, because the text itself offers no additional implication as to the rich man’s specific rank or social standing, be it equestrian or otherwise.     
[18] Cf. Luke 23:11; Acts 10:30; Rev 19:8 (cf. Jos., Ant. 8,72); Od. 19, 234; Polyb. 10, 4, 8; 10, 5, 1; Philo, De Jos. 105 A; (Jos., Vi. 334; TestSol 10:28 C; JosAs 14:15). 
[19] E.g. 16:20, 22; 2 Cor 6:10; Aristot., Rhet. 27 in contrast to πλουτεῖν.
[20] See BDAG, 567-568.
[21] Μέν τοι appears frequently in Hom. where it always occurs in speeches, in which τοι can be taken as the dat. of the Pron. In later Greek, μέντοι is written as a single word, and is used to demonstrate conjunctive force, to give emphasis to a question, to show impatience, etc. (see LSJ).
[22] See Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James, 111-112; Davids, The Epistle of James, 117; McKnight, The Letter of James, 211-213; Johnson, The Letter of James, 232-235. 
[23] James follows the LXX ordering which reverses killing and adultery (see Exod 20:13-15 and Deut 5:17-18). 
[24] Gnomic poetry is characterized by pithy statements exhorting traditional morality or wisdom. Within Greek Literature the form is exemplified by such writers as Solon, Simonides of Ceos, Theognis of Megara, and Phocylides.
[25] Wachob notes that Dibelius’ tendency to atomize the text of James stems from his form-critical approach, which posited that the literary genre of James was “parenesis” (Wachob, The Voice of Jesus in the Social Rhetoric of James, 37). Dibelius held parenesis to represent, “a text which strings together admonitions of general ethical content” (Dibelius, James, 3, 5, 11).  This content, he held was characterized by, among other things: eclecticism and lack of continuity or thoughtful progression (Ibid.). More recent commentators, however, have drawn Dibelius’ conclusions on these points into question (see L.T. Johnson, “James 3:13—4:10 and the Topos περὶ φθόνου,” and “Friendship with the World and Friendship with God: A Study of Discipleship in James,” Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James (2004) 182-201, 202-220).   
[26] Wachob notes that “it is a conventional topic of ‘justice,’ (Rhet. Her. 3.3.4.) and as such it is frequently encountered in Hellenistic philosophical and rhetorical discussions of law and judgment” (Wachob, 109). Cf. Antiphon Orator, 1, 21., Plat. Ap., 34c and 35b. Philo Spec. Leg., IV, 72; Virt., 141 etc.  
[27] “The reciprocity of the חֶסֶד obligation is the content of a בְּרִית (1 Sam 20:8). Thus the implied demand is a legal one. Both חֶסֶד and מִשְׁפָּט (“judgment,” “justice”) are demanded, as חֶסֶד is also connected with צְדׇקָה. As the חֶסֶד of the ruler protects his dominion, so חֶסֶד is what gives security to men in their mutual dealings” (Ibid.).    
[28] In drawing attention to the similar English translation of πίστις and ἔλεος, namely as signifying “faithfulness,” it is not my intention to collapse πίστις into ἔλεος or vice-versa. Rather, I am merely pointing to a possible semantic relationship held through the articulation of the author’s argument.
[29] The term “Western” for this text type is a misnomer, since the texts which it represents are not all of Western provenience. The Western text type is often associated with the large outgrowth of manuscripts in the second century. This was the text type used by Marcion, Justin, Heracleon, Irenaeus, Tertullian, et al. (Metzger and Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 276) 
[30] Davids, The Epistle of James, 59; Hartin, James, 6.
[31] Ibid., Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 679-686.