Friday's Orality/Rhetoric Lesson
van de Sandt, Huub. "Jems 4,1-4 in the Light of the Jewish Two Ways Tradition 3,1-6." Biblica 88 (2007), 38-63.
Van de Sandt and Flusser in 2002 worked on a reconstruction of the Two Ways material which may have served as a common source for Didache 1-6, Barnabas 18-20, and Doctrina Apostolorum. Here, van de Sandt analyzes the material as found in the Didache, except fo the portions which he considers Christianized (van de Sandt 2007, 38). The material in the Didache is used as a prelude to baptism, the setting van de Sandt takes to inform the letter of James as well. He reaches that conclusion due to similarities between James 1:21 and 1 Peter 2:1, which is clearly related to baptism (van de Sandt 2007, 39).
Van de Sandt identifies three primary interpretive challenges found in James 4:1-4 (van de Sandt 2007, 40). First, van de Sandt sees the words about wars and battles to be perplexing. Second, the statement about murder seems very forceful. Third, the shift to a feminine word for adultery in 4:4 seems abrupt, though Israel is periodically referred to as adulterous (van de Sandt 2007, 41).
Van de Sandt thinks the difficulties can be resolved by considering James as constructed from materials found in other sources, including the Didache (van de Sandt 2007, 42).
James 4:1-6 seems to van de Sandt to be closely parallelled by James 1:13-21, which, in turn, he finds closely related to Didache 3:1-6 (van de Sandt 2007, 43). This material, in turn, may be closely related to a portion of the Derekh Erets tracts, which can show an association with James' view of the Law and moral tradition.
James 4:1-6 is a call to conversion. It is predicated on a distinction between peace and conflict (van de Sandt 2007, 43). The life of conflict is portrayed as a life which pursues illicit pleasures. On the contrary, the life at peace asks for God's gifts (van de Sandt 2007, 44). With this in mind, van de Sandt turns his attention to chapter one of James, which summarizes the discussions made in the rest of the letter. There, in 1:13-15, God is responsible for man's internal strife (van de Sandt 2007, 45). In the verses which follow, God gives good things to his people, as the beloved ones who are not to be consumed by anger (van de Sandt 2007, 46). Therefore, anger and wrath are to be "put away," an idea common to 1 Peter 1:23-2:22 (van de Sandt 2007, 47).
Van de Sandt sees the overall concept to be a reflection of Didache 3:1-6 (van de Sandt 2007, 47-48). That material in the Didache warns against lesser sins which lead to greater sins. The same progression can be seen in James. While such a progression is not uncommon in such literature, van de Sandt finds substantial grammatical parallels in the way James 1:9 states the idea and the way Didache 3:2 addresses it (van de Sandt 2007, 50). The same expression is found in 1 Peter 2:1, but here van de Sandt considers it to have been reworked and refined (van de Sandt 2007, 51). n James and in the Didache, virtue and vice are contrasted with each other following a remarkably similar patter.
This parallelism leads van de Sandt to analyze the material in light of James 4:1-4 (van de Sandt 2007, 52). The presupposition he finds at work is a distinction, common to Jewish thought, between major commands and those which would seem relatively minor (van de Sandt 2007, 53). James may well be expressing this in chapter four. This is, in turn, similar to the emphasis found in Didache 3:1. Van de Sandt sees this as consistent with early second century rabbinic catechetical work as found in the Derekh Erets literature (van de Sandt 2007, 54).
This line of inquiry brings van de Sandt to the main passage on the Law from James 2:8-11. Here, James describes various transgressions of the law of God, all of which center in showing partiality (van de Sandt 2007, 56). James' corrective to this is that we must live in a kind of love which fulfills all God's commands (van de Sandt 2007, 57). This is consistent with James 4:11-12 and its prohibition of slander.
Van de Sandt next turns to interpreting James 4:1-4 in light of Didache 3:1-6. Here, though there are strong similarities, van de Sandt considers James to "surpass the Two Ways imagery" (van de Sandt 2007, 59). The arrangement used by James shows a cause and a result. Desire leads to murder. Jealousy leads to warfare (van de Sandt 2007, 59). As in Didache 3, the lesser sin leads to the greater (van de Sandt 2007, 60). For this reason, van de Sandt considers James to have been modeled on the Didache or similar text. The greater sins also indicate a warning against radicalism. We might consider this a slippery slope argument (van de Sandt 2007, 61). Van de Sandt thus sees James as a commentary on and expansion of the material in Didache 3:1-6.