James: A Narrative Analysis

analytical Essay
1593 words
1593 words

A Post-Reformation lens pushes many contemporary interpreters to ignore or argue against scriptural interpretations which exhort readers to follow Torah. Likewise, the doctrine of original sin informs many of these antiquated interpretations. In the epistle of James, the author exhorts readers to follow Torah, but his insistence that this law is a “law of liberty” confuses many who assume that following the law is unreasonable because of original sin or burdensome because of a Reformation lens which posits that faith in Christ supplants the need to perform works. However, if one understands that James believes that his audience is born with an innate sense of lawfulness and a desire to act out the commands of the law, these lawful exhortations …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how a post-reformation lens pushes contemporary interpreters to ignore or argue against scriptural interpretations which exhort readers to follow torah.
  • Argues that right, lawful action is akin to remembering and understanding one's nature as an implanted person.
  • Argues that james suggests that the law exists from birth. c freeman sleeper equates "hearers" as people listening to ancient preaching of the word.
  • Analyzes how james equates the "implanted word" that preexists within the individual from birth with torah.
  • Analyzes how the law is not pictured as a set of "do's" and "don'ts," but as "the perfect law of freedom."
  • Analyzes how sleeper's evidence only confirms a reading of implanted word as the entire, unabridged law.
  • Analyzes how james compares hearing without doing lawful action to self-deception, which assumes the deceiver is cognizant of the truth, but attempts to rationalize this impulse away.
  • Explains that one is naturally predisposed to good and pure, lawful action by expressing a generalized anxiety about external stimuli and those things that exist outside oneself.
  • Explains that james proposes that one is born as a lawed individual who must follow the natural inclination to care for marginalized people or face internal discord, self-deception, and authenticity.

James states “if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like (Jas 1:23-24). In other words, the author argues that a physical mirror leads one to forget insight about his or herself. On the other hand, those who “look into the perfect law, the law of liberty and persevere” are “not hearers who forget” (1:25). By echoing the language of “looking” and “forgetting,” the author creates an implicit comparison and suggests that “look[ing] into the law of liberty” is akin to looking into a better, more accurate mirror. This mirror will allow one to remember oneself. In other words, James suggests that if one looks into law, he or she will see his or her reflection and understand themselves as they already are---a lawed being. Moreover, James frames this pericope by stating that one should “welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls” (1:21). By framing this pericope with a clue that the individual comes to the mirror with an “implanted word” it thus makes sense that when “doers of the word... look into the [mirror of the] perfect law,” (v. 25) they see their true …show more content…

Self-deception assumes that the deceiver is cognizant of the truth, in this case, the truth of an inclination to act. However, in self-deception, he or she attempts to rationalize this impulse away. This becomes apparent in the first verse of the pericope when the author states that those who are “doers of the word” are unlike “hearers who deceive themselves” (v. 22). As mentioned above, these “doers” are those who perform the distinctly lawful action of “car[ing] for orphans and widows” (v. 27).Though one is correct to assume that the deception lies in hearing the word and hypocritically failing to commit oneself to action, this self-deception also suggests that one is behaving in a way that is inauthentic to one’s basic nature. This point becomes more clear in the passage when the author states that those can either “ bridle their tongues” or “deceive their hearts” (v. 26). C. Freeman Sleeper argues that when James discusses the need to“bridle” one’s tongue, he does so because this action is fundamentally unnatural and followers are not predisposed to this kind of self-control. He explains: “Another rare word is that for bridling or reining one’s tongue, used only here and in 3:2. It is a vivid image of the need for self-discipline. So is the image of deceiving one’s heart, which reminds us of the double-minded

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