POSTED 25 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 45-50 C.E.
Time period: prior to, or just after, the Jerusalem Council
Author: James the Just, brother of Yeshua
Location of author: Jerusalem or Judea
Target audience and their location: Jewish Believers in the immediate Diaspora: Phoenicia, Cyprus, Antioch
Theological Summary: The Epistle of James is widely considered by theologians to have the most “Jewish character” of all of the other writings of the Apostolic Scriptures, perhaps save the Gospel of Matthew. This is largely due to its emphasis on works and the moral conduct of the individual, deeply rooted within the Torah or Law of Moses. Some have suggested that aside from the few references to Yeshua the Messiah, that the Epistle of James would more appropriately fit within the canon of the Tanach (Old Testament) than the Apostolic Writings (New Testament). James’ letter certainly does address many of the practical aspects of faith, with his communication style being most assertive and authoritative. There are many parallels between the Epistle of James and the teaching style of the Messiah seen in His Sermon on the Mount, as well as the Wisdom literature of both the Tanach and the Apocrypha. Some of James’ letter even parallels that of ancient Greco-Roman moralists, which can be taken as meaning that a rather broad audience was intended to receive this letter. Viewpoints of James as a letter, wisdom literature, a midrash, a sermon, a homily, and even some kind of diatribe—have all been made by various examiners. The summary offered by Bauckham is quite good for readers of James to consider:
“He draws creatively on the wisdom of Jesus, as also on the Jewish wisdom tradition, using the teaching of Jesus as the focal point and principle that guides his appropriation of the wisdom tradition in general. This is the way in which we should understand the specifically Christian character of James. There is nothing un-Jewish in his teaching, any more than there is in that of Jesus, but the particular shape and character, emphases and concerns of James’s wisdom have been determined by the corpus of the sayings of Jesus” (ECB).
As a Messianic Believer, do you have a problem reading the New Testament? When you read the Apostolic Scriptures, are you confused when you encounter the Gospels, Acts, or Epistles? Have you possibly been taught that the “New Testament” replaces the “Old Testament,” and that there are contradictions between the two, only to be reconciled by the coming of Yeshua? Do you have difficulty reconciling the words of the Torah to Yeshua, Peter, Paul, John, and the other Apostles?
If you have ever asked any of these questions, it is time that you receive a re-introduction to the Apostolic Scriptures. These texts record the ministry and teachings of Yeshua the Messiah, the history of the First Century Messianic community, and the challenges that the early Believers in Yeshua faced. These texts are not contrary to the Torah, but do continue God’s progressive story that begins in Genesis. They have valuable lessons that every Messianic Believer and Messianic congregation must learn in this hour, as the Messianic community grows and matures.
A Survey of the Apostolic Scriptures for the Practical Messianic takes you on a journey through the New Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Apostolic Scriptures, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the New Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.