AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JAMES
There were two Apostles with the name of James. One was the brother of John, son of Zebedee. The other was the son of Alphaeus (Matt.10v2-3). However, neither of them is thought to have been the author of this Epistle. The oldest half-brother of Jesus was also named James (Matt.13v55). Jesus appeared to him after He rose from the grave (1Cor.15v7). He was present in Ac.1v14. Later he became a great leader in the Jerusalem congregation (see Ac.12v17; Gal.1v18-19). Most scholars believe that this man wrote this general letter.
Tradition has it that this James spent so much time on his knees in prayer that they became as callous as the knees of a camel! Paul listened to James' advice in Ac.21v18-26. Though James was a very conservative Jewish believer, he moderated a potentially-explosive situation in Jerusalem and helped to draft a very tolerant letter to the non-Jewish Christians in Antioch regarding their spiritual status (Ac.15v13; Ac.15v19; Gal.2v1; Gal.2v9-12). Though James certainly recognized Paul's role to the Gentiles, he concentrated on his own mission, that of winning his own Jewish brethren to Jesus, the Savior.
The Book of James is the most Jewish book of the New Testament, but would fit well within the stream of Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament. In fact, it has been called "the Proverbs of the New Testament." It is closer in spirit to the Gospel of Matthew than any other New Testament book. This is especially true with regard to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5-7). This letter from James is representative of Jewish Christianity of the type found in the Jerusalem congregation, where James was the dominant figure from about A.D. 45 until his martyrdom in A.D. 62.
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