Disclaimer of September 12, 2018. In the below post mistakenly I used a fundamentalist order of the New Testament. In the new incarnation of this site I’ll be using Marcus Borg’s order of the 27 books of the New Testament. The earliest book in the New Testament according to more serious scholarship is not the Epistle of James but 1 Thessalonians, an original letter of Paul’s. The last book in the New Testament is 2nd Peter.
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As noted by Karlheinz Deschner, although this book claims ‘to have been written by James, brother of the Lord, many important reasons exclude this possibility’.
There are indications that the Book of James was written before 50 CE. Its distinctively Jewish nature suggests that it was composed when the church was still predominantly Jewish. If this early dating is correct, this letter is the earliest of all the New Testament writings, with the possible exception of Galatians.
The recipients are identified in 1:1: ‘the twelve tribes scattered among the nations’. The epistle breathes an unmistakably Jewish air. The term ‘twelve tribes’ would naturally apply to Jewish Christians. For example, in 2:21 the author calls Abraham ‘our father’; he also uses of the Hebrew title for God, kyrios sabaoth, ‘Lord Almighty’ in 5:4. The letter, written in excellent Greek, is also similar to Old Testament wisdom writings such as Proverbs. In 2:1-9 of the Book of James we can read:
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
If exported to the gentiles, this is Jesus’ toxic love: what the thoroughly Judaised West is currently doing with non-white immigrants, right?
Although the author of the Book of James does not specify it, given his Semitic background we may surmise that in his diatribes against the ‘rich’ (see esp. 5:1-6) he may refer to the ‘Hellenes’.
Always keep in mind this paragraph from my preface to the forthcoming PDF/printed book of Deschner’s first volume: ‘Before the introduction of the pejorative term “pagan” the non-Christians of the Roman Empire were called héllenes and éthne by the treatise writers of the 4th century. The expression hellénon éthne can be translated into modern English as “the Greek races,” that is, the white peoples. Therefore, instead of the author’s textual “pagan” I chose the pre-derogatory term in the vernacular of the 4th century, “Hellenes,” right before the status of the white peoples was demoted unless they started to worship a Semitic god’.