James, epistle of the New Testament

James, letter of the New Testament, traditionally classified among the Catholic, or General, Epistles. The James of its ascription is traditionally identified with St. James the Less. However, the name is more likely a pseudonym. The letter's diverse sayings and admonitions, some of which are recurrent, are interspersed with more lengthy discourses, e.g., on the relationship of faith and works, the need for curbing the tongue, and the danger of envy and ambition. There are many points of contact with sayings of Jesus recorded in the Synoptic Gospels—e.g., on oaths, on rich oppressors, and on loving one's neighbor. Martin Luther rejected James because it seemed to deny his interpretation of justification by faith and to argue instead that a person is justified by works. “Works” are faith in action, i.e., the expression of trust in God. For both James and Paul, loving one's neighbor fulfills the law. Scholars differ widely on the origins and date of the work.

See studies by D. J. Moo (1985) and R. P. Martin (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: New Testament