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12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you who judges the other?
12 One [only] is the lawgiver and judge, [even] he who is able to save and to destroy: but who art thou that judgest thy neighbor?
12 For there is one lawgiver and judge, who is able to save and to destroy: who are you to judge your neighbor?
12a and judge : Nes | Byz TR: Ø P74 and Byz lack the phrase "and judge." The TR also omits it.
12c another : Byz TR | Nes: neighbour Byz reads the generic "another" (heteron) instead of "neighbour" (plêsion).
In the current context, James stresses that it is the Lord alone (not presumptous humans) who is the the only lawgiver and judge.
12b able to save and to destroy ECHO of the Jesus Tradition One may detect an echo here of Jesus' characterization of God in Mt 10:28: "And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." "For whoever wishes to save his life (psuchê) will lose it, but whoever loses (apollumi) his life for my sake will find it" (Mt 16:25).
The word "destroy" can refer to physical death (e.g., Mt 2:13; 12:9), but also to eschatological destruction: Mk 1:24 (destruction of an unclean spirit); Rom 14:15 (destruction of a weak brother); Mt 10:28.
12a one lawgiver and judge God is the Ultimate Source of Political Authority
12a lawgiver and judge Characterization of the Lord in G The Lord is frequently designated as the lawgiver (using the verb form nomotheteô) in G: e.g., Ex 24:12; Ps 25:8 [24:8]; Ps 119:33 [118:33]). The Lord's role as judge is also frequently stated: Ps 7:11; 49:6; Sir 35:14 [35:12]; Heb 12:23.
A strong case can be made, however, that James has in mind the Lord Jesus as lawgiver and judge. The passage here is parallel with Jas 5:9, and there the eschatological judge who stands at the door is almost certainly the Lord Jesus (cf. →James: The title kurios in James).
11f lawgiver and judge Vocabulary on Law and Judging The criterion that enables one to judge (G = krinô; V = judico; S = d’n) between good and evil is the law (G = nomos; V = lex; S = nmws’). Therefore, the ultimate judge (G= kritês; V = judex; S =dynh) is the divine lawgiver (G = nomothetos; V = legislator; S = s’m nmws’, lit.: the one who sets down the laws, who is the source of the law).
12b able to save and to destroy Connotations of "to save" James several times uses the verb “to save” (sôzô; V= liberare; S = ap‘el of ḥy’):
James’ use of sôzô focuses on a final, eschatological salvation. This sense is evident in the current context, which refers to the divine power of salvation or destruction possessed by the one lawgiver and judge.
James, however, is not reading Leviticus directly, but reading Leviticus through the filter of Jesus' own interpretation. One may discern clear echoes of Jesus' teaching: "Stop judging, that you may not be judged" (Mt 7:1; cf. Lk 6:37-42). James is also guided by Jesus' selection of Lv 19:18 as a central commandment of the Torah (e.g., Mk 12:28-34), and on Jesus' characterisitic emphasis in mercy (e.g., Mt 5:7; Mt 6:14-15).
11f speak against Disparaging Fellow Community Members
In general, the tradition interprets this passage to refer to church members who, out of arrogance or envy, are judgmentally condemning the faults of fellow church members, thus causing dissension in the church.
4:7–5:9 Use in Lectionary →BL : Thursday, 32nd Week after Pentecost.
11f judging his brother Echoing the Theme of Judging James returns to his central theme of judging (cf. →James: Judging). His concern is emphasized in his diction: he uses the verb "to judge" (krinô) four times, and the noun "judge" (kritês) twice.
11f speak against Katalaleô with Other Vices in the Testament of Gad The Testament of Gad connects speaking badly with other vices mentioned by James:
12a lawgiver Jesus or God the Father as Lawgiver
A theme in early Christian tradition is Jesus as the author of the "new law" (in contrast to the "old law" of Israel).
James, as frequently noted, makes extensive use of Jesus' sayings from the Sermon on the Mount traditions and understands the "law of freedom" as the law as interpreted by Jesus (especially as found in the Sermon on the Mount materials). See also Biblical Intertextuality Jas 4:12a.
1:1–5:20 James Depictions of the Author Depictions of James, the author of the epistle, in paintings, statues, manuscript illustrations, engravings, woodcuts, and embroidery on liturgical vestments are particularly prominent in the Middle Ages. A common consensus of the artists is that the author of the epistle is James the Just, leader of the Jerusalem church; he is typically further identified with James, son of Alphaeus, one of Jesus' Twelve (Mk 3:18), and "James the Less" (Mk 15:40). The iconography of James draws particularly on accounts of James recorded in → 23 and Hist. eccl.→ 2, who in turn draw on accounts from Clement of Alexandria and Hegesipus. See also Vir. ill.→James: Introduction.
Several prominent features of these portrayals may be noted:
The following images are noteworthy:
James holds a club.
James, who resembles his brother Jesus, is second from his left. This full-scale copy was the main source for the— unfortunate—twenty-year restoration of the original (1978–1998). It includes several lost details such as Christ's feet, the transparent glass decanters on the table, and the floral motifs of the tapestries that decorate the room's interior. It was first mentioned in 1626 by the author Bartolomeo Sanese as hanging in the Certosa di Pavia, a monastery near Pavia, Italy, but it is unlikely that it was intended for this location. At some point, the upper third of the picture was cut off, and the width was reduced. Giampietrino is thought to have worked closely with Leonardo when he was in Milan. A very fine, full-size copy of this painting, before it was cut down, is installed at Tongerlo Abbey in Westerlo, near Antwerp, Belgium.
The side and central panels describe a a great hall with blue grey walls and three-colored tiles. In the side panels are depicted the half sisters of Virgin Mary, called after their fathers Mary Cleophas (left) and Mary Salome (right) together with their husbands.
Left panel: St. Mary Cleophas and Alphaeus (with the features of Friedrich the Wise with their two sons, the Apostles St. James the Less (at her breast) and Joseph Justus, called St. Barnabas, as annunciator of the Gospel of Matthew depicted with a book.
Central panel: Joseph, who seems to seems to sleep, the Virgin, dressed in blue with yellow lining, Anna and the Christ Child on her knee, who is stretching out his hand towards an apple given to him by Virgin Mary. Anna's three husbands following → are shown in the background in the matroneum: on the left Joachim, who is attracted by the holy women in front of him and whose relation is also shown by the corresponding blue and yellow color of his dress, Cleophas (with the physiognomy and chain of Emperor Maximilian I and Salomas, with the physiognomy of Sixtus Oelhafen von Schöllenbach, secretary of Friedrich III, Maximilian I and Karl V), who are talking to each other. There is an architectural structure by a great stone bench in the foreground of the central panel with two marble columns on the sides, over which is strectched a cloth of gold. On the right column is a tablet with date and signature: [LVCAS CHRONVS FACIEBAT ANNO 1509. The parapet of the matroneum is decorated by a sculptured frieze with dancing putti holding six escutcheons with the six fields of Electorate of Saxony. In the hall are shown the 17 members of the Holy Kinship. In the central panel are shown two more children of Mary Cleophas and Alpheus, the Apostles Simon, patron saint of weavers, dyers, tanners and saddlers and Jude, who went on mission and suffered their martyrdom together and therefore are regularly depicted together. Leg. aur.
Right panel: St. Mary Salome and Zebedee (with the features of Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, and his brother Herzog Johann der Beständige). St. Mary Salome, dressed in gold with dark red lining, is combing her son Saint James the Greater and while Saint John the Evangelist is hiding in her dress.
James is shown holding a Bible, symbolizing his status as a scriptural writer, in one hand. James is depicted in the Mannerist style with elongated form and without any of the traditional iconographic symbols
The risen Jesus appears to James and breaks bread with him (based on an account recorded in → 2, said to be drawn from the Gospel according to the Hebrews). Vir. ill.
James holds a book and club.
James, resembling Jesus, prayers on his knees with outstretched arms. It perhaps reflects Hegesippus' statement that James spent so much time in prayer that his knees were as hard as a camel's.
The inscription bearing the name of the saint has disappeared, but the iconography—facial features and beard shape —suggest that the icon is of James. Byzantine art places him among the founding fathers of the Church. As the creator of the first liturgy containing memorial services and the author of the message, which speaks of the healing power of prayer (Jas 5:14-16), he was also worshipped in ancient times as a healer. In Novgorod, James is prayed for the end of the epidemics. In sacred iconography, the representations of James of Jerusalem alone are very rare. We know the icons of Novgorod in which he is represented with other saints: Nicholas the Thaumaturgist, James the brother of God, Ignatius the bearer of God, end of the 15th c.; James the brother of God, Cosmas and Damian, 2nd quarter of the 16th c. The icon comes from the best workshops in Moscow or Novgorod.
1–12 Internal and External Conflicts Overall, James again emphasizes the connection between the microcosm of the individual person and the macrocosm of the community: disorder and strife (caused by passions and conflicting desires) within the person manifest themselves in disorder and conflict in the community. This section expands earlier topics :
James' exhortation to the community may be analyzed in the following way:
While the pericope presents one famous crux interpretativa—Jas 4:5, a challenging verse that defies clear interpretation, raising a host of textual, grammatical, and interpretative issues, cf. Textual Criticism Jas 4:5b; Grammar Jas 4:5b; Christian Tradition Jas 4:5a; Christian Tradition Jas 4:5b—several texts have drawn special attention in the interpretive tradition: