The Epistle of James and the First Epistle of John
The Epistle of James
Introduction. Scholars have proposed dozens of disparate solutions to the most basic questions regarding the epistle of James (Edgar, 2001). It is indeed difficult to assess genre, audience, message, purpose, and social, historical and cultural setting of this epistle. This is specially so when faced with the challenge of dating this book; though out of scope for this essay, we must at least acknowledge that opinions ranging from mid 30s (Hodges, 2015) to mid second century (Allison, 2015) must be taken into consideration.
Popular views that see James as mere wisdom literature (Bauckham, 1999, as cited in Baker, 2002), as paraenesis (Dibelius, 1976 as cited in Moo, 2015), or as diatribe (Ropes, 1916 as cited in Edgar, 2001), and generally lacking logical structure, have been challenged in the past few decades (Jackson-McCabe, 2003; Reiher, 2013; Moo, 2015). James cannot be taken as a discourse in a vacuum without neglecting the socio-historical background and impacting our understanding of message and purpose. However, Moo’s (2015) suggestion that James is a homily then transcribed in epistolary form allows to retain both exhortation and wisdom characteristics, now underpinned by a historical setting providing us with occasion, motive, audience, and social situation, and thus shedding new light on the message.
Introduction to the book of Exodus and the book of Haggai
Until the 19th century the historicity and traditional authorship of the Pentateuch was widely accepted. Nowadays, however, Exodus is a controversial book (Seiglie, 2003). The Documentary Hypothesis constituted the first substantial shift, rejecting Mosaic authorship (Allis, 2001). The biblical minimalists went much further, denying archaeological evidence exists in support of biblical Israel (Thompson, 1999). Yet Exodus is “the most significant historical and theological event of the Old Testament” (Merrill, 1996, p. 57-58), thus of critical importance (Hayes, 2009).
Divine revelation is seen as essential to Christianity across the spectrum. Ball (2012) says that any knowledge one may have of God is solely “the outcome of God’s gracious initiative and of his will to be known” (p. 13), while Bahnsen (1996) goes as far as saying that God’s revelation is the very foundation of knowledge. Of all forms of divine revelation, written revelation—the Scripture—was ultimately necessary to preserve all we need to know in order to relate properly to God (Erickson, 1985).
Calvinists say that if we do not believe what they believe, we do not believe that God is sovereign. In particular, to affirm free will means, for them, to deny the sovereignty of God. What does it mean that God is sovereign?
There is no such thing as “your truth” or “my truth”. There is the truth, and then there is opinions. One’s opinion may or may not align with the truth. When it does, it means one is right, when it does not, it means one is wrong. Take the absoluteness of truth away, and you have taken away the ability to judge any claim of any nature right or wrong.