The author of the Letter of James accuses his readers (Jas 4,1-4) of being responsible for war, murder and adultery. How are we to explain this charge? This paper shows that the material in Jas 1,13-21; 2,8-11 and 4,1-4 is closely akin to
the teknon section in Did 3,1-6. The teknon section belonged to the Jewish Two Ways tradition which, for the most part, is covered by the first six chapters of the
Didache. Interestingly, Did 3,1-6 exhibits close affinity with the ethical principles of a particular stream of Rabbinic tradition found in early Derekh Erets treatises. James 4,1-4 should be considered a further development of the warnings in Did 3,1-6.
In the Letter of James the faithful are called upon to become “poets of the lovgou”, that is to say to pass from just hearing the divine word to putting it into action. But this expression does not insist upon the need to make the faith concretely real. It enters into relation with a vocabulary that evokes the energy which must inspire both the words and the actions or the contemplation of human beings and it above all alludes metaphorically, by reference to Greek literary art, to the aesthetic, in fact spiritual, dimension that Christian conduct must take on in order truly to realize itself as such.
The main goal of this essay is to demonstrate that the author of the Letter of James knows how to reason according to the rules of arrangement then in place in the schools and elsewhere, rules that he uses with originality. His rhetoric is not Semitic: for him, Greek is not only a language or a style but also what structures the development of his thought. The choice of a chreia as the pattern of arrangement allowed him to repeat an opinion that had become common in some Christian communities and criticize it, showing that it was erroneous. By presenting this common opinion as a maxim (gnoee), he did not need to cite Paul and thereby avoided attributing to him what was only an erroneous recapitulation of his doctrine of justification.