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Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition (Studies on Personalities of the New Testament) [Hardcover]

By John Painter (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   326
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.34" Width: 6.4" Height: 1.27"
Weight:   1.63 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1997
Publisher   University of South Carolina Press
ISBN  1570031746  
EAN  9781570031748  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Why the contributions of James the Just have been obscured from Christian consciousness

Just James reviews the legends surrounding a towering figure in the early Christian church and fully discloses the importance of a man whose prominence has been eclipsed in church tradition. John Painter explains why Christian leaders have minimized the early influence of James, who served as the first bishop of Christendom's mother church, and brings to light his role as the fountainhead of traditions used to further the interests and causes of Jewish Christians, Gnostics, and the larger Christian community.

Painter explores the many legends associated with James, including those of Mary's perpetual virginity his kinship to Jesus, his receipt of special revelations from the risen Lord, and his status as one of the first Christian martyrs. Dealing with James's relationship to Judaism and Jewish Christians and linking his influence in the church at large to the fate of the Jerusalem church, Painter contends that the larger Christian movement has viewed James's righteousness and martyrdom as useful concepts but has considered his intimate relationship to Jesus and authority in the early church as embarrassments to be effaced.

Painter also examines the New Testament epistle attributed to James, considering its authorship, intended audience, and primary concerns. Suggesting that the letter is an attempt to deal with the marginalized situation of Christian Jews, he concludes that the letter's canonization as a "Catholic" epistle, or an epistle for the whole church, obscured the Jewish character of the book -- the fount from which it sprang.

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More About John Painter

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Painter is Professor of Theology at St. Mark's National Theological Centre, Charles Stuart University, Canberra, Australia.

John Painter currently resides in Canberra

John Painter has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Personalities of the New Testament

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General   [38596  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament   [2808  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General   [6817  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Biographies > New Testament   [281  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Could Be A Brilliant Book, But...  Sep 21, 2007
John Painter delivers a masterful stroke in his use of the form critical method. He constantly finds in Scripture incidents that are easily overlooked by most. He handles the exegesis of most difficult passages with ease, but at times he incorrectly grasps the theological meaning, or purposefully detracts from Scripture, as do most form critical authors, who struggle with the authoritative nature and origin of Scripture.

A good example: in referring to Paul's return to Jerusalem, he actually argues that the Jerusalem elders, James included, deliberately planned to have Paul arrested and his subsequent handing-over to the authorities, and his finally being taken to Rome.

To me it would seem he hereby makes the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem complicit in Paul's demise. This is over-reaching the text and this inventiveness does not behoove the inerrancy of Scripture. He does suggest that the evidence does not lean towards this, but just the fact that he suggests it, left a sour taste in my mouth.

In general, an informative read.
Restored Portrait of an Early Christian Leader  Mar 24, 2000
James "the Just", "the brother of the Lord", is remembered in Christian tradition as the first bishop of Jerusalem and the author of a canonical epistle. In the Orthodox Church, his feast day is marked by a special liturgy, celebrated on no other occasion. In short, he holds a place as a Great Man in the early Church. Nevertheless, his theoretical greatness is coupled with practical obscurity. Next to the towering figures of Peter and Paul, James is a shadowy presence. Even the one writing attributed to him, a high point of "Wisdom literature", has suffered neglect, burdened by Martin Luther's contemptuous dismissal of its contents as "straw".

John Painter seeks to restore the portrait of "Just James" to its original brilliance. He considers every ancient text that bears on James: the handful of references in the New Testament, the short but significant testimony of Josephus, the thin line of orthodox remembrance and the much more abundant Gnostic and heretical appropriation of James' image. The available information about James has never before been so carefully and thoroughly assembled. Sadly, though, the pigments on the canvas remain scattered and faded, so that the Painterly picture has in it, in the end, more of the artist than the subject.

On some elements of James' life, Professor Painter is fresh and convincing. He demonstrates the weakness of the evidence underlying the conventional opinions that James and the other "brothers of the Lord" converted to belief in Jesus only after His death and that James did not become the "leader" (whatever leadership may signify at that point in Christian history) of the Jerusalem church until Peter departed from the city. He also offers a clear treatment of the early controversy over mission strategies, though his symmetrical schema of six "positions" in the debate over preaching to non-Jews may be too abstract and tidy to reflect reality.

On the other hand, his discussion of other topics is less satisfactory. On the degree of kinship between Jesus and James, he presents the standard arguments against Jerome's hypothesis (that the two were cousins) but rejects the traditional view of the Eastern Church (that they were half-brothers) without grappling with it. His argument is half well-poisoning (guilt by association with the often-preposterous Protevangelium of James) and half literalism ("adelphos" means "brother", and that's that, as if there were any other natural Greek word to use for a brother by only one parent).

Even worse is his analysis of the motives that led the Jerusalem authorities to put James to death in 62 A.D., an action that the non-Christian Josephus characterizes as a judicial murder. The natural assumption, unanimously supported by Christian accounts, is that James was martyred for professing Christ. Professor Painter, on virtually no evidence, prefers to believe that James was closely associated with economically distressed Temple priests of pharisaic tendencies and was executed for his advocacy of their interests. Such a socioeconomic interpretation may resonate today, but one wonders how James and his small congregation could have genuinely threatened the political power of the High Priesthood and whether Professor Painter is right to presume that Pharisees would not have objected to injustice against someone who was not of their own faction.

Questionable points like these do not, however, undermine the value of this scholarly labor. The limitations of the surviving sources necessarily make the history of early Christianity largely a study of two apostles (or of one and a half, since Pauline material is so much more abundant than Petrine). An effort to fill in some of the rest of the picture is welcome.


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