Andrew M. Bowden, «The Fruit of Righteousness in James: A Study in Discourse Analysis.», Vol. 26 (2013) 87-108
In this study, a discourse analysis of James is conducted with the goal of better understanding the structure, theme, and cohesion of the letter. By paying careful attention to the details of the text, James’ paragraphs are identified, as are the signals of transition between the various paragraphs. The conclusions reached based on a discourse analysis of James are illuminating. Far from being a randomly arranged work, James repeatedly uses present prohibitory imperatives in the overall organization of the Epistle. These imperatives are important in marking transitions between main sections. Furthermore, a discourse analysis reveals that James is a coherent epistle comprised of 16 paragraphs, with 3,13-18 providing the overarching macrostructure of the letter. Bearing the fruit of righteousness, a theme prominent in 3,13-18, is seen to be the letter’s overarching and unifying thought.
90 Andrew M. Bowden
clearly marked by the transition from the verbless-salutation to the first
imperative ἡγήσασθε (1,2). James’ prescript is quite simple compared to
some of Paul’s11. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to ignore it, since
subtle additions in the prescript often provide hints into aspects of the
letter and often foreshadow the communicative situation of the letter12.
James’ prescript offers several insights about the author and recipients.
Regarding the author,13 James identifies himself as θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου
Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος. Such a title establishes the prophetic tone from
the Epistle’s first verse, since James “presents himself as standing in the
prophetic line … [because] the prophets who enforced this covenant were
referred to as ‘servant of God/the Lord’”14. As Jobes explains, the use of this
title “may be a convention that would have invoked the prophetic tradition
as a contextual background for construing the author’s message”15. James
will speak in some extremely strong words. The title “slave of God and of
Jesus Christ”, therefore, not only establishes his prophetic authority for
doing so, but prepares the reader for the remainder of the Epistle, which
rings with the voices of the prophets16.
Additionally, the prescript describes the letter’s recipients as the
twelve tribes of the diaspora (ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ).
The term διασπορά carried important connotations, and these were not
always positive. Bauckham notes that the term implied, not just exile,
but was used “more specifically with God’s scattering of his people as
punishment for their sins”17. Similarly, Wachob notes how “dispersion”
Johnson notes that it is “remarkably simple” and calls it an “unadorned salutation”
(The Letter of James: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary [AB 37A;
New York 1995] 170).
See S.E. Adams, “Paul’s Letter Opening and Greek Epistolography: A Matter of
Relationship”, in S. Porter and S. Adams (eds.), Paul and the Ancient Letter Form (PS
6; Leiden 2010) 39; P.L. Tite, “How to Begin, and Why? Diverse Functions of the Pauline
Prescript within a Greco-Roman Context”, in S. Porter and S. Adams (eds.), Paul and the
Ancient Letter Form (PS 6; Leiden 2010) 98.
For the purpose of this study the author of the Epistle will be referred to as “James”
and “he”. Space constraints forbid an in depth analysis of the authorship.
K.H. Jobes, “The Minor Prophets in James, 1 & 2 Peter and Jude”, in M.J.J. Menkn
and S. Moyise (eds.), The Minor Prophets in the New Testament (LNTS 377; Edinburgh
Jobes, “Minor Prophets”, 135. Jobes notes that of the many ways James could have
introduced himself, he chose this specific way and then included “language, themes, motifs
and images from the Old Testament prophets.”
These will be pointed out throughout the course of the study. Students of James
generally recognize the importance of wisdom material — especially Proverbs — in James,
and James’ allusion to the love command of Leviticus 19 and his many allusions to Synoptic
material. One of the results of this study, however, will be that James’ extended use of the
LXX prophetic material has been largely overlooked.
Bauckham, James, 14.