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this form was very familiar in the contemporary Hellenistic world, where similar somewhat miscellaneous collections of general moral instructions were widely employed in teaching ethics.
If these instructions were phrased throughout in the third person such a collection was called a ‘gnomologium.’ But if the second person (singular or plural) was employed, so that the teachings were addressed – either actually or as a literary device – to an individual or to a group, then the collection was termed a ‘paraenesis.’ And in James we have a perfect example of a paraenesis…
The Christian debate over Justification is still unsettled, see also Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, Biblical law in Christianity, and New Perspective on Paul.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia"The subjects treated of in the Epistle are many and various; moreover, St.
James not infrequently, whilst elucidating a certain point, passes abruptly to another, and presently resumes once more his former argument; hence it is difficult to give a precise division of the Epistle." The object of the writer was to enforce the practical duties of the Christian life.
The vices against which he warns them are: formalism, which made the service of God consist in washings and outward ceremonies, whereas he reminds them () that it consists rather in active love and purity; fanaticism, which, under the cloak of religious zeal, was tearing Jerusalem in pieces (); fatalism, which threw its sins on God (); meanness, which crouched before the rich (2:2); falsehood, which had made words and oaths play-things (3:2-12); partisanship (); evil speaking (); boasting (); oppression (5:4).
From the middle of the third century, patristic authors cited the Epistle as written by James the Just, a relation of Jesus and first Bishop of Jerusalem., James was nonetheless a very important figure: Paul described him as "the brother of the Lord" in Galatians and as one of the three "pillars of the Church" in 2:9.
In the New Testament, Rom.” [Romans] “3:1-8 illustrates the form admirably. “The fact that the Epistle of James is written throughout as a paraenesis, with frequent employment of the diatribe, shows that its author must be sought among those whose literary associates were with the Greek rather than with the Hebrew world.Lastly, many scholars consider the epistle to be written in the late first or early second centuries, after the death of James the Just.Among the reasons for this are: cites Talmudic sources for nearly every verse. Massebieau] “and a German scholar,” [Friedrich Spitta] “working wholly independently, published almost simultaneously conclusions that were identical.Authorship has also occasionally been attributed to the apostle James the Great, brother of John the Evangelist and son of Zebedee.The letter does mention persecutions in the present tense (2:6), and this is consistent with the persecution in Jerusalem during which James the Great was martyred (Acts 12:1).