Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


A Brother’s Wisdom 67

posted by Scot McKnight

JesusJames*.jpgJames 4:7-10 contains a list of commands and prohibitions, with an occasional promise. Here is the text, and you can read it and see if you think here is a discernible structure:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.


First, there are ten imperatives in this section, and my own view is that each of them is simply another way of saying “Change, leaders, and drop this craving for power. Devote your friendship to God!”

1.    7 Submit yourselves therefore to God.
2.    Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 
3.    8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
4.    Cleanse your hands, you sinners,
5.    and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 
6.    9 Lament
7.    and mourn
8.    and weep.
9.    Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. 
10.    10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Second, 4:7a, “submit yourselves,” could be the topic but it is far from clear that it is. We can use words to make it the topic but proof is hard to come by. “Resist” in 4:7b is a separable command with a promise, and “Draw near” in 4:8a has the same form. Clearly, the “cleanse” and “purify” in 4:8b is a tidy, balanced double command that belongs together. And the first three commands of 4:9a are not only a unit but separable from the 3d person imperative of 4:9b. Finally, 4:10 is indeed similar to 4:7a, but both a different word is used and “Humble yourselves,” like 4:7b and 4:8a, comes with a promise. These units are clearly discernible.  The relationship of the separable units, though having some structure, are more random than they are logically connected.  Some connect the commands: thus, one must first submit and then resist and then approach God and then be pure and then repent and then … . Such connections are not made by James and reveal more the ingenuity of a scholar or preacher than the realities of this text. Martin describes the section well when he describes it “a staccato burst of rapid commands.”  The sections come more like a battering ram from a variety of angles than a logical argument.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
Ted M. Gossard

posted June 11, 2009 at 4:05 am


I’m really enjoying this series, Scot, and look forward to the book. Can you tell us just when it is coming out? (of course I could call Eerdmans myself, and their bookstore is the best for Christian scholarly books- with coffee)



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.