Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Epistle of James - An Epistle of the Two Spirits

An Epistle of the Two Spirits

This epistle was written originally by James the prophet from Rome.  James’s theology saw the Spirit of God providing cleansing by the Spirit. The epistle was subsequently edited so that James appeared to teach that deeds or keeping the law was the way to being made right with God . I cannot read the epistle of James without thinking that it was originally about the Spirit of God and prophets.  

In NORMATIVE Judaism (see the DSS), it was the spirit of deceit in a person who "DECEIVES" (Jam.1:16), and "a double–minded" person was one who obeyed his spirit of deceit or darkness as well as his spirit of truth or light (Jam.1:8). There was no such entity as "evil", but spirits of deceit or darkness caused wrong actions when they were listened to and obeyed.  When the Spirit of the Lord was listened to and obeyed a person's spirit of deceit had no power.

James wrote his epistle at Rome to the prophets or “Christians” at Jerusalem.  In Italy they were known as CHRISTIANOS, or anointed ones, as on the Latin inscription at Pompeii. The prophets were being persecuted by the priests. James’s principal opponent was Ananus a chief priest, the son of Ananias a chief priest. Ananus had a reputation for anger, being “a bold man in his temper and very insolent”. (Ant.20.9.1). He appears as “that man” (Jam. 1:7), “the one” (Jam.1:10), “the rich man” (Jam.1:11), “no-one” (Jam.1:13), “each one” (Jam.1:14), “man’s” (Jam.1:20), “anyone” (Jam.1:23,26). The tension in this letter indicates that these terms applied to a named individual.

The prophets believed that obedience of the Spirit was the way to be cleansed before God. They had rejected animal sacrifices for some time prior to the early first century CE. Once obeyed, the Spirit was received and it cleansed the person’s spirit. For the prophet, obedience of the law did not cleanse the spirit. But the priests believed that keeping the law, including the requirement for animal sacrifices, was the way to be right with God.  The text was originally highly critical of the priests, as in Romans Chapter 2. (See http://raphaelgolb.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-epistle-to-romans.html)


[ ] = Proposed text post James
{ } = Proposed original text of James

Chapter 1

Notes: 
v.(1) I think we can take it that James was not writing to the “twelve tribes” which were long gone, or even the diaspora.  He was writing to the prophets to which James belonged.  These preserved their traditions. They were known to be poor artisan types such as potters and smiths. 

v.(1) “And of the Lord Jesus Christ” is the obvious addition of a later editor.

v.(2)They could hardly accept “trials” as “pure joy”, but as a purifying testing of the Spirit may be. 

v.(3)In a spirit world, trials or persecutions come from spirits of deceit or darkness in people.  Reference to being deceived in the extant text has its origin in the Jewish idea that there is a spirit of deceit.   

1.1.James, a [servant] {prophet} of [God, and of] the Lord [Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes among the nations]: Greetings.

THE SPIRIT PURIFIES THROUGH PERSECUTION

1.2.Consider it [pure joy] {testing}, my brothers, whenever you face [trials] {persecution} of [many kinds] {spirits of deceit},

1.3.because you know that the testing of your [faith] {spirit}  develops perseverance. 

1.4.[Perseverance] {The Spirit} must finish its work so that you may be [mature and not lacking any thing] {obedient}.

1.5.If any of you [lacks wisdom] {is impure}, he should ask God, who gives [generously] {purification} to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

1.6.But when he asks, he must [believe] {ask in the Spirit}, [and not doubt], because he who [doubts] {does not} is [like] a [wave] {spirit} of [the sea] {deceit}, blown and tossed by the wind.

1.7.That man should not think he will receive [anything] {cleansing} from the Lord;

1.8.he is a double[-minded] {-spirited} man, [unstable] {impure} in all he does. 

1.9.The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in [his high position] {the Spirit}.

1.10.But the [man] {brother} who is rich should [take pride] {be humble} in [his low position] {the Spirit}, because he will [pass] {fade} away like a wild flower.

1.11.For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, the rich man will fade away, even while he goes about his business.

1.12.Blessed is the [man] {brother} who [perseveres] {obeys the Spirit} under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of [life] {glory} that {the Spirit of} God has promised to those who [love] {obey} him.

1.13.When tempted, no-one should say, "{the Spirit of} God is tempting me." For {the Spirit of} God [cannot be tempted by evil, nor] does not tempt anyone.  

1.14.But each one is tempted when, by his own [evil desire] {spirit of deceit}, he is dragged away and [enticed] {deceived}.

1.15.Then, after [desire] {his spirit of deceit} has [conceived] {deceived}, it gives birth to [sin] {impurity}; and [sin] {impurity} when it is full-grown, gives birth to [death] {judgement}.

1.16.Don't [be DECEIVED} {listen to your spirit of deceit} my dear brothers.

1.17.[Every good and] {The} perfect [gift] {Spirit} is from above, coming down from the [Father] {God} of the heavenly lights, who does not change like [shifting shadows] {earthly spirits}. 

1.18.He chose to give us birth through the [word] {Spirit} of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT AND OBEY HIM

1.19.My dear brothers, [take note] {listen} [of this] {to the Spirit}; everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

1.20. for [man’s] {Ananus’s} anger does not bring about the [righteous life] {cleansing} that the {Spirit of} God desires.

1.21.Therefore, get rid of all [moral filth and the evil] {spirits of deceit} that [is] {are} so prevalent, and humbly [accept] {obey} the [word] {Spirit} planted in you, which can [save] {cleanse} you.

1.22.Do not merely listen to the (word) {Spirit} [, and so DECEIVE yourselves].  Do what it says. 

1.23.[Anyone] {Ananus} [who] listens to the [word] {Spirit}, but does not [do] {obey} what it says. He is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 

1.24.and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

1.25.But the [man] {brother} who [looks] {listens} intently [into] {to} the perfect [law] {Spirit} that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting [what] {who} he has heard, but [doing] {obeying} [it] {him}, he will be [blessed] {cleansed} [in what he does].

1.26.If [anyone] {Ananus} considers himself [religious] {obedient} and yet does not [keep a tight rein on his tongue] {obey the Spirit}, he [DECEIVES himself] {has a spirit of deceit} and his [religion] {obedience} is worthless. 

1.27.[Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world].  


Chapter 2

DO NOT LISTEN TO PRIESTS

2.1.My brothers, as [believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ] {prophets}, don't [show favouritism] {listen to priests}.

2.2.Suppose a [man] {priest} comes

[into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and, a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.
2.3.If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes]

and say{s},

["Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man,] "You [stand there" or]

sit on the floor by my feet,"

2.4.have you not [discriminated among yourselves] {compromised the Spirit} [and become judges with evil thoughts]?

2.5.[Listen, my dear brothers:] Has not God chosen those who are [poor in the eyes of the world] {prophets} to be [rich in faith] {in the Spirit} he promised those who [believe] {obey} him? 

2.6.[But you have insulted the poor]. Is it not the [rich] {priests} who are [exploiting] {persecuting} you?   Are not they the ones who are dragging you [into court] {before the Sanhedrin}?

2.7Are they not [the ones] {priests} who are slandering the [noble name] {Spirit} [of him to] whom you [belong] {obey}?

2.8.If you
[really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbour as yourself,"]
{obey the Spirit} you are doing right.

2.9.But if you [show favouritism] {listen to priests}, you [sin and] are [convicted] {condemned} by the [law] {Spirit} [as law-breakers].

2.10.[For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
2.11.For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "do not murder. "If you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a law-breaker].

2.12.Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the [law] {Spirit} that gives freedom,

2.13.because [judgment without mercy] {condemnation} will be shown to
[anyone] {priests} who [has] {have} not been [merciful] {obedient}. [Mercy triumphs over judgement]. 

2.14.What good is it, my brothers, if a [man] {priest} claims to [have faith] {sacrifice} but [has no] {does not have the Spirit} [deeds]?  Can [such faith] {sacrifice} [save] {cleanse} him?

2.15.[Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
2.16.If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well ;keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
2.17.In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
2.18.But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith  by what I do.
2.19.You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that -- and shudder.
2.20.You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is dead?
2.21.Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous in offering up his son Isaac on the altar? 
2.22.You see that the law and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
2.23.And the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.]

2.24.You see that a person is [justified] {cleansed} by [what he does] {the Spirit}, and not by [faith] {sacrifice}.

2.25. [In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered  righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
2.26.As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead] . 


Chapter 3

THE SPIRIT FROM HEAVEN IS PURE

The tongue is clearly part of an editorial.

3.1.[Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.]

3.2.We all stumble IN [many ways] {spirits of deceit}. [If anyone] {The Spirit of God} is never at fault in what he says.

[He is a perfect man and able to keep his whole body in check.
3.3.When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
3.4.Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
3.5.Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.]

3.6.The [tongue] {spirit of deceit} [also] is a fire,

[, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire,]

and is itself set on fire by [hell] {the Devil}.

3.7.All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,

3.8.but no man can tame the [tongue] {spirit of deceit}.  It is a restless [evil] {spirit}, full of [deadly poison] {uncleanness}.

3.9.With the [tongue] {spirit of truth}, we praise our Lord [and Father], and with [it] {the spirit of deceit}, we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.

3.10.[Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.]

My brothers, this should not be.

3.11.Can both [fresh water] {the Spirit of truth} and [bitter water] {Spirit of deceit} [flow from] {come out of} the same [spring] {spirit}?

3.12.[My brothers, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?  Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
3.13.Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
3.14.But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it, or deny the truth.
3.15.Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
3.16.For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.]

3.17.But the [wisdom] {Spirit} that comes from heaven is [first of all] pure;

[then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
3.18.Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness].


Chapter 4

YOU PRIESTS, SUBMIT YOURSELVES TO THE SPIRIT

4.1.[What] {You priests} cause[s] fights and quarrels [among you]. Don't they come from your [desires] {spirits of deceit} [that battle] within you?

4.2.You want [something] {sacrifice} but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. 

 [You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.
4.3.When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.]
4.4.You adulterous [people] {priests}, don't you know that friendship with the [world] {devil} is hatred towards God?

[Anyone] {A priest} who chooses to be a friend of the [world] {devil} becomes an enemy of God.

4.5.Or do you think [scripture] {God} says without reason that [the] {my} Spirit [he caused to live in us,] envies intensely?

4.6.[But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."]

4.7.Submit yourselves, then, to {the Spirit of} God.

[Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
4.8.Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double-minded.
4.9.Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning laughter and your joy to gloom.
4.10.Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
4.11.Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
4.12.There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you -- who are you to judge your neighbour?]

4.13. Now listen, you {priests} who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on [business] {preaching} and make money."

4.14.Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

4.15.Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that."

4.16.As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is [evil] {from the spirit of deceit}.

4.17.[Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.]