The Epistle of James: early Torah observant followers of Jesus

“James represents Christian Jews who did not define themselves over against Judaism. That is, our book emerged from a Christ-oriented Judaism, from a group that still attended synagogue and wished to maintain irenic relations with those who did not share their belief that Jesus was the Messiah. In such a context the Epistle of James makes good sense.”

Dale C. Allison, James: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary (International Critical Commentary) Edition published by Bloomsbury T&T Clark (2013), p.43.

Dale C. Allison is an American New Testament scholar, historian of Early Christianity, and Christian theologian. He currently the Richard J. Dearborn Professor of New Testament Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary.

 

 

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Categories: Biblical scholarship

34 replies

  1. James is such a great book. The New Testament is such an interesting mix of documents from different apostles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James and Paul don’t contradict each other. The only reason people think that is because of the doctrine of Sola Fide that Martin Luther cooked up. In the first 1500 years of the church, there was no problem.

    Also, I don’t know if you’re trying to say that James is a Muslim text since Muslims don’t observe the Torah.

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  3. Shalom aleichem. Indeed the view of James the Just with regards to Torah Observance is at variance with that of Paul. Prof Robert Eisenmen in his book ”James: The Brother of Jesus” demonstrates this and claims that the Ebionites were the true descendents of James and Jesus! Prof James Taboor also has the same view, that James’ Sectarian Group were Torah Observant Non Trinitarian Zealous Israelites who continued to offer sacrifices at the Temple! Prof Eisemen even claims that Muslims are the real inheritors of James the Just! wow

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eisenman doesn’t understand Islam then since the Ebionites denied the virgin birth of Christ which the Quran affirms. Also, as I mentioned, Muslims don’t observe Torah. You specifically mentioned that these people were Torah observant. There were no Islamic Christians.

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    • also books by hans joachim scoeps

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    • Dr. Eisenman understands Islam well enough to accurately state that the dietary laws of the people who wrote the dead sea scrolls is virtually the same as Islamic dietary laws.

      It is not about simply following the Torah, it is about coupling faith and works as parts in the mechanism of salvation, as well as adhering to divine law of God. Just as James taught and did both these things, so do Muslims.

      One can say that there were “Islamic” Christians in the sense that anyone who submits their own will to the will of God is a Muslim.

      In regard to virgin birth, the Ebionites could have been right about some things, and wrong about others.

      The Qur’an sets the record straight, so that we do not have to rely on previous people who were oftentimes fallible.

      Liked by 2 people

    • ‘In regard to virgin birth, the Ebionites could have been right about some things, and wrong about others.’

      The historical picture shows a complicated picture: some Ebionites did belive in the virgin birth, some did not.

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    • Ibn Issam,

      I don’t think that you can say that every pre-Muhammad non-Trinitarian was a Muslim. Remember, they have to deny the death of Christ and affirm the virgin birth. Unitarianism does not equal Islam.

      Also, dietary laws are not the only part of the law. The Torah includes governmental, agricultural, priestly, temple, and moral laws, dietary only being a small subsection. Muslims don’t observe Torah. I would also say that modern Jews don’t as well since they don’t have sacrifices, a Temple, a priesthood, a monarchy, and a theocratic kingdom of Israel(not a secular democratic state).

      Paul Williams,

      Can you provide a primary source(Church fathers arguing against Ebionites) that says they believed in the Virgin Birth. I know that what you’re saying is theorized by historians but it’s only a theory. There is no documentation to back it up, at least to my knowledge. I’m willing to be corrected if you can show me early sources.

      Ray Pritz in his book talks about the early Jewish Christian groups. There were several of them. None of them fit the Muslim picture. You cannot find a group that denies his death and deity, and also affirms his Virgin birth which would be necessary for them to be Islamic. The best you could say is that this hypothetical Islamic Christian group was lost to history.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Allan Ruhl

      Are protestant Christians not Christians? Are Catholic not Christians? Are Calvinist not Christians? Are Unitarian Christians not Christians? How about reformed baptists? etc. All the above sects believe in God but have varied disagreements. Each will tell you it is the real Christian. What will say who a Christian is? with regards to different Christian beliefs.

      A Muslim is someone who submits himself to do the will of one God of Abraham and follow his laws. That is a Muslim. So, Allan before prophet Mohammed, there are people submitting themselves to do the will of God of Abraham, follow the truth the commandments.

      Those people are Muslims because wasn’t send yet to make corrections. The prophet and the Quran just made correction but did not say the previous people who follow the truth are not Muslims. The Quran said, all prophets of the Bible are from one God.

      Their rules and regulations keeps updating to suit their generation. It is similar but differs a little. Jesus prayed like Muslims do and called God Allaha, Elaha, Elah or whatever. So are all the prophets.

      Even if some Ebionites did not understand something, it does not make them not Muslims. That is what the prophet of Islam came to correct them.

      Didn’t Jesus came to correct the Jews? Before Jesus, were there no believers in God of Abraham who follow the truth? That is Islam from the beginning.

      Thanks.

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    • Allan Ruhl

      God does expect some true followers of God-Muslims before prophet Mohamed to misunderstand something and that is why the prophet of Islam and the Quran came to correct.

      It is clear that, worshiping man, any image including Jesus who is an image beneath the earth and above the heaven is idolatry. That is the problem. The rest mistakes can be an oversight. If the Ebionites did not believe in the virgin birth before prophet Mohammed but follow their commandments and serve one God of Abraham, they could say they don’t know.

      Worshiping a man who ever that man is, is the problem. The Ebionites can still be Muslims and claim the virgin birth was not clear to them until prophet Mohammed made it clear to them.

      Thanks.

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    • Intellect,

      When you say that anyone who submits to God is a Muslim, it destroys the definition of what a Muslim is. That would make Jews and Christians Muslims, which they are not. You can say that the Quran came to correct things but none of the early self proclaiming Christians fits the Islamic model. Yes, they believe in God but if that alone makes them a Muslim, then you’ve destroyed the definition of Islam.

      “Didn’t Jesus came to correct the Jews? Before Jesus, were there no believers in God of Abraham who follow the truth? That is Islam from the beginning.”

      Yes, Christ did come to correct the erroneous ways of many Jews. By the time of Jesus, almost the whole nation of Israel was apostate. There were true believers before them. The difference is that Jesus instituted a new covenant and going forward you have to be under this covenant. The Quran knows nothing about the Biblical covenants starting with the covenant of Adam to Jesus Christ. If you want to follow God, you can’t believe in him and do your own thing, instead you have to follow the covenant you’re under. We are under the covenant of Jesus Christ now and we need to follow that covenant to be saved. Yes, it includes believing in God but much more.

      Muhammad never claimed to bring a new covenant. He didn’t even try to annul the covenant that Christ made. It is still fully in effect.

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    • ‘When you say that anyone who submits to God is a Muslim, it destroys the definition of what a Muslim is.’

      But that is the meaning of the term in the Quran. Christians submit to God and others such as Jesus and Mary, so are they not Muslims in the sense of submitting to God alone. They have gone astray.

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    • Allan Ruhl

      May 12, 2017 • 9:32 pm

      Intellect,

      When you say that anyone who submits to God is a Muslim, it destroys the definition of what a Muslim is. That would make Jews and Christians Muslims, which they are not. You can say that the Quran came to correct things but none of the early self proclaiming Christians fits the Islamic model. Yes, they believe in God but if that alone makes them a Muslim, then you’ve destroyed the definition of Islam.

      I say;
      You left out so many things from what I said. Find the cut and paste of what I said below.

      Cut and paste…………………………………….

      A Muslim is someone who submits himself to do the will of one God of Abraham and follow his laws. That is a Muslim. So, Allan before prophet Mohammed, there are people submitting themselves to do the will of God of Abraham, follow the truth the commandments.

      Those people are Muslims because wasn’t send yet to make corrections. The prophet and the Quran just made correction but did not say the previous people who follow the truth are not Muslims. The Quran said, all prophets of the Bible are from one God.

      Their rules and regulations keeps updating to suit their generation. It is similar but differs a little. Jesus prayed like Muslims do and called God Allaha, Elaha, Elah or whatever. So are all the prophets.

      Even if some Ebionites did not understand something, it does not make them not Muslims. That is what the prophet of Islam came to correct them.

      Cut and paste………………………………………

      Mr. Allan, if you read the above I said any one who submits to do the will of one God of Abraham and follow his commandments without worshiping a man- Jesus or any image according to the second commandment before Islam is a Muslim.

      Read the second commandments that excludes the Christians who worship Jesus as true believers of God of Abraham.

      ———————
      The Second Commandment

      The Ten Commandments — Thomas Watson

      Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am o jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of then that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.’ Exod 20: 4-6.
      ————————-

      Mr. Allan you said;

      Yes, Christ did come to correct the erroneous ways of many Jews. By the time of Jesus, almost the whole nation of Israel was apostate. There were true believers before them. The difference is that Jesus instituted a new covenant and going forward you have to be under this covenant. The Quran knows nothing about the Biblical covenants starting with the covenant of Adam to Jesus Christ. If you want to follow God, you can’t believe in him and do your own thing, instead you have to follow the covenant you’re under. We are under the covenant of Jesus Christ now and we need to follow that covenant to be saved. Yes, it includes believing in God but much more.

      Muhammad never claimed to bring a new covenant. He didn’t even try to annul the covenant that Christ made. It is still fully in effect.

      I say;
      So, before Jesus, no single Jew was on the right path to God? What is your proof end evidence before Jesus ALL Jews are condemned? We need proof please? I do not think ALL Jews were astray before Jesus Christ. Mary the mother of Jesus was a Jew and she was pious together with her mother, father and family, they were on the straight path before Jesus Christ.

      To say all Jews were astray before Jesus, is wrong.There were many Jews like Mary who were on the right path to God.

      Mr. Allan said;

      Jesus brought new covenant.

      Mr. Allan used the word “claim” for prophet Mohammed but was sure his Jesus did not “claim” without any evidence and proof.

      Mr. Allan, I can also say use “claim” for Jesus and outright dismiss his “new covenant” like how you are doing to Islam.

      If Jesus brought new covenant why was he using the Torah and the Ebionites, Arians, etc. continue to observe the laws of God?

      Jesus prayed like Muslims but never worshiped himself like Christians and so what new covenant are you talking about?

      Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “King James Bible

    Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

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  5. Erasmus

    Cup is a new testament? How can a cup be new testament? Parable? This is a serious matter Erasmus. We do not need parable for or metaphor for this one. This is not how Yahweh, the God of Abraham speaks, when it comes to serious matters. He is very clear on serious matters like below.

    God of Abraham is one, alone and only is clear. He did not use “cup” hear for “one”, “alone”, “only” because He means business and want it to be absolutely clear for us because that is the salvation.

    “Yahweh, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
    “Yahweh, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39
    “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me” Deuteronomy 32:39
    “Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one [echad]!” Deuteronomy 6:4
    “You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You” 2 Samuel 7:22

    How can a “cup” be “new testament” if He is serious and want us to believe “new testament” is serious like how He is serious with us of Him being is “one”, “alone” and “only” clearly stated in the Bible?

    Thanks.

    Like

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