Zangenberg, Jürgen. "Chapter Six: Matthew and James." in Sim, David C., and Repschinski, Boris (editors). Matthew and His Christian Contemporaries. London: T&T Clark, 2008, 104-122.
Zangenberg observes that though there seem to be connections between Matthew and James, the works do not make specific and clear cross-references (Zangenberg 2008, 104). This, however, is also the case in many works from the same general period, which may be closely related to one another. It is frequently more productive to consider evidence of material clearly drawing on similar source matter or of it having similar vocabulary or style. Zangenberg briefly lists some similarities which will influence his analysis (Zangenberg 2008, 105). Both texts were written at a time when most of Christianity existed in a predominantly Jewish context. Though there are different factions within Christianity and Judaism at the time, these texts do not attempt to sort out these differences.
Matthew and James are both ascribed to particular authors, though Matthew's ascription is external rather han internal (Zangenberg 2008, 105-106). Identification of the James claimed as the author of the leter is a bit more difficult. He is not clearly identified in the letter. However, we may well take him to be the person who was the lead elder in Jerusalem for many years (Zangenberg 2008, 107). Matthew, though not identified clearly as the author in the body of the Gospel, is referred to by Papias and others relatively early (Zangenberg 2008, 108).
We know relatively little about the community in which James wrote. Zangenberg notes the letter is addressed as a circular letter to the twelve tribes, yet they are not "of Israel" and they are all scattered, with none remaining in Palestine (Zangenberg 2008, 109). James speaks of a variety of leaders, but does not reference apostles. He also doesn't make statements about different subgroups, such as nationalities (Zangenberg 2008, 110).
Matthew shows interest in teachers but also speaks clearly about "apostles" and "disciples" (Zangenberg 2008, 110). Matthew is much more specific than James about the types of doctrinal differences among groups, as well as different religious practices. James paints a more unified picture (Zangenberg 2008, 111). Matthew shows a tension with Judaism, but Zangenberg considers it unclear what specific type of Judaim is in his mind (Zangenberg 2008, 112). Matthew also makes it clear that there are differences between Christianity and Roman culture. However, the type of differences are not shown clearly.
Zangenberg goes on to discuss the content and terminology found in Matthew and in James. Matthew and James both take a high view of the Law, urging not only hearing, but also active obedience (Zangenberg 2008, 113). This is common in many early Christian texts. While Matthew speaks clearly about ritual regulations for purity, James does not. Matthew's emphasis is based on Jesus' commands; James' motivation is based on broader, more typically Jewish logic (Zangenberg 2008, 114). James gives us more Jesus traditions than are found in any other writings except the canonical Gospels. James, however, never uses context found in Matthew, restraining himself to individual sayings. James has an oblique way of developing his Christology. While not mentioning the birth, death, or resurrection of Jesus or using Messianic titles, he clearly shows Jesus as the lord and returning judge (Zangenberg 2008, 115-116). Matthew grounds his Christology in all the elements which James chooses not to mention.
Zangenberg thinks James shows a close kinship to 1 Peter, with common traditions and similar community situations (Zangenberg 2008, 117). Matthew fits similarly into the context with James and 1 Peter. The alleged controversy between James and Paul may be overblown. There seems to be relatively little contact in topics or settings (Zangenberg 2008, 118). Paul and James both consider God's law as essential and expect people to hear and obey. Both pursue love as the way of fulfilling the law, and recognize that we live by faith. Paul has a greater expectation of the work of the Holy Spirit to bring forth works than does James (Zangenberg 2008, 119). The two authors are dealing with different situations and go about them in slightly different ways.
Zangenberg concludes that Matthew and James have a close relationship. Though there is diversity in their literary outlook and use of other material, they draw on the same thought world as one another (Zangenberg 2008, 120). For that matter, the world of Paul and John are clearly within the same tradition as well (Zangenberg 2008, 121).