Having set the stage in his introduction, James now turns to discuss one of the major themes he has introduced, that of wealth and charity. A discussion that expands on the previous statements in 1:9-11 and 1:22-27. Following James’ theme of responding to God’s implanted word in action in the previous chapter (1:22-25), the author now starts situate the behavioural patterns that ought to be manifested by his brothers and co-servants who have received the word. He does so with the emphasis of practicing equality within the church, as James clearly believes that the poor have a very important place in the church because of the levelling effect of the Christian gospel, to which he argues that true faith has no place for the social distinction of the world.
Scholars generally classify James as among the seven writings that are commonly referred to as Catholic Epistles. Although there is some doubt about the meaning of katholikos in this context, it seems likely that it is meant to imply the “general” as opposed to the “particular” nature of these writings: the Catholic Epistles were addressed to Christians in general, in contrast to the Pauline Epistles which –for the most part –were addressed to individual churches.
Many agree that the message of James is scandalous as it contains the famous passage that says: “man is not justified by faith alone.” In fact, a book has already been written about it –Elsa Tamez’s The Scandalous Message of James: Faith Without Works is Dead. However, I would like to point out that there is perhaps a more scandalous message contained in the Epistle of James –that is James’ disdain towards the practice of partiality in the community of faith.
The Scripture as the Word of God couched in ancient human language, in human words that persevere for Christians of all generations as a form of God’s self-revelation to his people who are fashioned in and through Jesus of Nazareth. As Christians in the twentieth century we read and study that Word of God as nourishment of our spiritual lives. But we do not study it in a vacuum. We are members of a faith-community that feeds its spiritual life, indeed on the written Word of God along with the tradition that has been born of it and that has helped fashion the understanding of that written record.
Summary and reflection on Nicholas Wolterstorff’s 4-part article series entitled: The God Who Speaks
The view that God is speaking as this has been somewhat of a contentious topic among the present theological landscape, in light of this I would like to tender a summary of four articles written by Nicholas Wolterstorff entitled: The God Who Speaks.
Using Augustine’s conversion story Wolterstorff, pushes forward a thesis that the God of the Bible is very much a speaking God. By weaving Scripture with Augustine’s conversion, He argues that God spoke to people as reported in Scripture, he argues: God spoke to Augustine by way of a child’s sing-song; and God spoke by way of Scripture itself; lastly God spoke, above all, in and through Jesus Christ. The God of Scripture the God of Christian experience who spoke in diverse ways and on many occasions to human beings.
A summary of Grammatical-Structural Relationships from Klein, Bloomberg, and Hubbard’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
In this portion of the book the authors’ Klein, Bloomberg and Hubbard’s note the indispensable place of grammatical study in Bible interpretation as Scriptures also finds its place in a copious communication process where the study of grammatical rules that field includes morphology and syntax play a vital role in understanding the written text.
Looking at it in this light reminds me of this experience during church services where I could no longer count how many times I’ve heard the term: ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ especially at youth services where the minister would make a call for personal piety in the congregation, via the use of 1 Corinthians 6: 19. However, it is safe to say that as far as being true to Scriptures the such an interpretation falls short of its actual meaning if it were to be looked at in its original context –since the use of the pronoun: ‘you’ in the passage has a very different function in the grammatical structure of its original Greek.
A summary of Historical-Cultural Background from Klein, Bloomberg, and Hubbard’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
This may come as a shock to many –but the Bible is not written specifically for us.
In the duration of our study in Hermeneutics it has been ingrained in us that biblical interpretation is the process of carefully studying the biblical text in order to understand its meaning and relevance, first of all in the past, and secondly in the present.
Accordingly the process of analyzing the biblical text in its original context in order to clarify or understand what it means implies that the task of the exegete is to allow the text to speak for itself. Exegesis then focuses on the then of the text rather than the now of contextualized meaning. For that reason, Jeannine Brown writes: “exegesis is the task of carefully studying the Bible in order to determine as well as possible the author’s meaning in the original context of writing.” Therefore engaging in biblical interpretation means that the exegete is to be engaged in a cross cultural task, as it involves bridging gaps or distance of time and location, language and culture.
A summary of Sidney Greidanus’ Textual-thematic preaching from The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature
I speak from experience when I say that I often end up with a confused understanding of a certain bible passage after hearing it preached in a sermon. I gather that it is perhaps because of the fact that contemporary preachers when doing an exegesis on a passage often do not have a framework on recognizing the passage’s theme and not to mention have a systematic method of formulating the passage’s theme that they’ll be delivering in a sermon –thus leading to a muddle up preaching that confuses both the preacher and the congregation that hears the sermon because the preacher failed to bridge the historical-cultural gap and show how the ancient text is relevant to its modern audience.
A summary of Preunderstanding of the Interpreter from Klein, Bloomberg, and Hubbard’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
Can one approach the Scriptures without bias?
This is a fundamental question that confronts biblical interpreters, whenever they would approach the Bible, because whether we like it or not “we all have certain suppositions or assumptions of the word based upon our prior experiences based on these presuppositions”. In their book Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, the authors Klein, Bloomberg and Hubbard, defined this phenomenon as preunderstanding: an occurrence upon which knowingly and unknowingly we construct a body of beliefs and attitudes that we use to interpret or make sense of what we experience, which according to them play a very significant role in shaping the way we construe reality –therefore functioning as an arbitrary hermeneutic that we tend to use whenever we would try to draw out meaning at a given text. Continue reading →
A summary of Gordon Fee’s Exegesis and Spirituality: Completing the Circle, an excerpt from Listening to the Spirit in the Text
To paraphrase the words of Gordon Fee: ‘The ultimate task of exegesis is spirituality,’ as he proposes the need for an interface between exegesis and spirituality which can be found in between the historical exercise of digging out the original intent of the text and the experience of hearing the text in the present terms of both its presupposed and intentional spirituality.
Accordingly if the goal of exegesis is spirituality it is crucial now for us to ask what spirituality is in the first place –for it is in framing it into a working definition that we start what Fee, portrays as the circle of approaching the Scripture from the vantage point of a serious exegete and a earnest followers of Christ that are seeking for a genuine encounter with the God who has revealed Himself in the Word.