How faith works in James 4:13-5:20 : an exegetical-theological interpretation

Kim, Joong Goo (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The research showed that most scholars now agree that one enters into salvation by grace through faith, but the saving faith inevitably produces works as well. But we can find still two problems. First, some debates still remain regarding the nature of the saving faith. Many agree on its essential components: notitia (knowledge), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust). They emphasise wholehearted trust at the core of faith. Some others reject that fiducia (trust) is to be included in the definition of faith. Second, scholars rarely explain how that faith produces the works of faith in various specific situations. The aim of the proposed research is to answer two questions: (1) “what is the nature of faith?” and (2) “how does it produce works in various specific situations?” To achieve the aim of this dissertation, this researcher has investigated Jas. 4:13-5:20 by means of a theological approach integrated with exegetical analysis based on the historical and cultural background of the text: (1) researching the historical issues on the Letter of James (e.g. the author, recipient, and date) and cultural backgrounds related to Jas. 4:13-5:20; (2) analysing a structure of Jas 4:13-5:20 and dividing sections by considering three dimensions: rhetorical devices, main themes (e.g. eschatology), and messages; (3) investigating the concept of faith in the whole Letter of James and analysing closely the exhortations in 4:13-5:20 section by section, focusing on how the living faith produces works in various contexts, by examining three related aspects: (1) the situations of the recipients; (2) knowledge of truth; (3) exhortations as the work of faith. In Chapter 2, we researched the historical and cultural issues on James. Although the Letter of James was accepted slowly in canonization, the Letter was received as Scripture by the church. The information from various sources indicates that James, the brother of Jesus, was the leader of the early church. James, the brother of the Lord, wrote the Letter around AD 45-47 to the mainly Jewish Jesus followers who were living outside of Palestine among Gentiles, including Gentile Jesus followers. The research of historical context in Palestine and Rome between AD 33-66 indicates that the recipients were suffering from severe economic difficulties because of famine, banditry, and the exploitation by the wealthy. Moving to the world of the text in Chapter 3, firstly we argue that James was often understood as paraenesis or protreptic or wisdom, but recently it has been agreed that James is best understood as a homily in the form of an encyclical letter. To investigate Jas. 4:13-5:20 properly, we have built a structure of Jas. 4:13-5:20 by considering three dimensions: rhetorical devices, main themes (e.g. eschatology), and messages of sections: (1) 4:13-17; (2) 5:1-6; (3) 5:7-12; (4) 5:13-18; (5) 5:19-20. In Chapter 4’s theological analysis, the investigation on the lexical meaning of the πιστ- word group demonstrates that the term faith (trust) can be translated with faithfulness or loyalty because they are used closely as synonym. After close examinations of the key terms and the concept of faith in the whole Letter of James and analysing Jas. 4:13-5:20, section by section, we conclude that for James the nature of faith is the confidence in the message of truth and the right attitude of the wholehearted commitment to the word of Jesus and the will of God. The true faith then has a disposition or a direction to become mature in knowledge of the truth and in thinking, speaking, and acting. James argues that the faith as the confidence and the attitude of the wholehearted commitment to the word of Jesus and the will of God produces appropriate responses to the various situations according to the knowledge of the truth.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die navorsing het aangedui dat die meerderheid van kenners nou saamstem dat 'n mens op grond van genade deur die geloof verlos word, maar dit is ook onafwendbaar dat die die reddende geloof werke tot gevolg het. Ons kan egter nog twee probleme vind. Eerstens bly daar steeds nog debat oor die aard van die reddende geloof. Baie stem saam oor die wesenlike komponente daarvan: notitia (kennis), assensus (instemming) en fiducia (vertroue). Hulle beklemtoon hartlike vertroue as die kern van geloof. Ander verwerp egter fiducia (vertroue) as deel van die definisie van geloof. Kenners verduidelik selde hoe geloof die werke van geloof in verskeie spesifieke situasies lewer. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om op die volgende twee vrae te antwoord: (1) "wat is die aard van geloof?" en (2) "hoe lei dit tot werke in verskillende spesifieke situasies?" Om die doel van hierdie verhandeling te bereik, het die navorser Jak 4:13-5:20 ondersoek met ’n teologiese benadering wat met eksegetiese analise geïntegreer is, gebaseer op die historiese en kulturele agtergrond van die teks deur: (1) die historiese kwessies aangaande die Brief van Jakobus (bv. ie skrywer, ontvanger en datum) en kulturele agtergronde wat verband hou met Jak. 4:13–5:20 te ondersoek; (2) die struktuur van Jak 4:13–5:20 te ontleed en verdelende gedeeltes in drie dimensies te oorweeg, naamlik: retoriese meganismes, hooftemas (bv. eskatologie) en boodskappe; (3) die konsep van geloof in die hele brief van Jakobus te ondersoek en die vermanings in 4:13–5:20 noukeurig te ontleed en te fokus op hoe die lewende geloof in verskillende kontekste werk deur drie verwante sake te ondersoek, naamlik a) die situasies van die ontvanger; b) kennis van die waarheid; c) vermanings as die werk van die geloof. In Hoofstuk 2 het ons die historiese en kulturele kwessies van Jakobus bestudeer. Alhoewel die Brief van Jakobus stadig in kanonvorming aanvaar is, is die brief as Skrif deur die kerk aanvaar. Die inligting uit verskeie bronne dui daarop dat Jakobus, die broer van Jesus, die leier van die vroeë kerk was. Jakobus, die broer van die Here, het die brief rondom die 45-47e-eeu geskryf aan die hoofsaaklik Joodse Jesus-volgelinge wat buite Palestina tussen heidene gewoon het, insluitende Christene uit die heidendom. Die navorsing van die historiese konteks in Palestina en Rome tussen 33-66 nC wys daarop dat die ontvangers swaar ekonomiese probleme ondervind het as gevolg van hongersnood, rowery en uitbuiting deur die rykes, asook verwarring oor hul geloof en identiteite as gevolg van die vals profete van elders. Deur na die wêreld van die teks in hoofstuk 3 te beweeg, redeneer ons eerstens dat Jakobus dikwels as paraenese, protreptiese, of wysheid beskou is, maar dat daar onlangs oorenstemming is dat Jakobus die beste verstaan kan word as ‘n homilie in die vorm van 'n ensikliese brief. Om Jakobus 4: 13-5: 20 behoorlik te ondersoek, het ons 'n struktuur van Jak 4:13-5:20 gebou deur drie dimensies te oorweeg: retoriese tegnieke, hoof temas (bv. eskatologie) en boodskappe van afdelings: 4:13-17; (2) 5:1-6; (3) 5:7-12; (4) 5:13-18; (5) 5:19-20. In Hoofstuk 4 se teologiese analise, toon die ondersoek na die leksikale betekenis van die πιστ- groep dat die term geloof (vertroue) met getrouheid of lojaliteit vertaal kan word omdat hulle as sinonieme gebruik word. Na noukeurige ondersoeke van die sleutelterme en die konsep van geloof in die hele brief van Jakobus, en deur Jak 4:13–5:20 gedeelte vir gedeelte te ondersoek, kom ons tot die gevolgtrekking dat die aard van geloof vir Jakobus die vertroue is op die boodskap van die waarheid en die regte houding van die volle verbintenis tot die woorde van Jesus en die wil van God. Die ware geloof het dan die ingesteldheid of gerigtheid om volwasse te word in kennis van die waarheid en in denke, praat en optrede. Jakobus beweer dat die geloof as die vertroue en die houding van die volle verbintenis tot die woord van Jesus en die wil van God gepaste reaksies op die verskillende situasies lewer volgens die kennis van die waarheid.

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