Martin Luther is infamous for calling the Epistle of James “a right strawy epistle,” but most Christians ignore Luther’s straw man and embrace the Epistle as compelling and perennially relevant. Indeed, people often memorize and cherish the words of James, finding in them a practical yet radical ethic that is akin to Jesus’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. In this course, we will explore James’s teachings and reflect upon their relevance for life in the twenty-first century. We will explore the emphasis that James places on maturity and integrity as hallmarks of the human life lived well. We will also discuss the role that James the Just played in early Judaism and in the early Christian movement.
- Remember the structure and content of the Epistle of James;
- Be familiar with introductory issues and scholarly debates concerning the Epistle;
- Understand the major theological and ethical teachings found in the Epistle;
- Appreciate the importance of participating in critical and respectful discussions concerning biblical texts;
- Be sensitive to the historical and cultural environment in which the early church first communicated the gospel;
- Embody the ethical seriousness that is so evident throughout the Epistle of James;
- Be able to read and understand books that engage with James in a critical manner;
- Be able to talk intelligently about James;
- Be able to explain and demonstrate how James is relevant to contemporary Christianity;
- Engage in doctoral-level research that invokes James in a responsible manner.