Father-God Language And Old Testament Allusions In James -- By: Esther Yue L. Ng

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 54:2 (NA 2003)
Article: Father-God Language And Old Testament Allusions In James
Author: Esther Yue L. Ng


Father-God Language And Old Testament Allusions In James

Esther Yue L. Ng

Summary

This article examines three passages in James where God is referred to as πατήρ (Father) (1:17; 1:27; 3:9). In all three cases, it is found that the word is neither a dead metaphor nor a mere title. To the contrary, each use of the word is relevant to what is predicated of God and his works in the immediate context when the OT allusions are identified. In addition, the predominant connotation of the fatherhood of God in James is his creatorship: of the heavenly lights, of orphans and widows, and of human beings in general. However, the fatherhood of God is also used in connection with the redemption of believers in Jesus Christ and has an eschatological dimension. Finally Father-God language in James is used to promote care for the underprivileged and respect for all—the very opposite of overbearing patriarchy.

I. Introduction

In response to the proliferation of feminist challenges to the propriety of employing the term ‘Father’ in addressing and referring to God, much has already been written either to explicate its meaning in the Bible or to defend its continued use in the Church today over against gender-inclusive imagery in God-talk. It is interesting, however, that such works rarely, if ever, examine the use of Father-God language in the letter of James.1 The present paper is, therefore, a modest attempt to

partially fill this lacuna. A key figure often appealed to in the discussion over the NT evidence, especially over the use of Abba by Jesus, is of course Joachim Jeremias.2 Interestingly, while many have questioned (or at least toned down) his view of the novelty of this term as an individual’s address to God in prayer in Palestinian Judaism,3 some scholars seem to endorse totally his position that Father-God language is used by Jesus (and by the NT writers as well) primarily in eschatological terms to explicate God’s faithfulness in redemption rather than God’s role as Creator and Provider.4 The present paper thus looks at the evidence in James against the backdrop of this redemption-versus-creation discussion as well. Finally, this paper also examines the use of the Old Testament in the letter of James, particularly in the three passages (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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