The Spectrum Of Wisdom And Eschatology In The Epistle Of James And 4QInstruction -- By: Darian Lockett

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 56:2 (NA 2005)
Article: The Spectrum Of Wisdom And Eschatology In The Epistle Of James And 4QInstruction
Author: Darian Lockett


The Spectrum Of Wisdom And Eschatology In The Epistle Of James And 4QInstruction

Darian Lockett

Summary

One line of current research in the Epistle of James focuses upon the inter-relationships between traditional wisdom, prophetic, and eschatological material. In support of this line of inquiry this article investigates the combination of eschatological and sapiential concerns in James by comparing James with the intertestamental Jewish wisdom document 4QInstruction. In comparing literary forms, and sapiential and eschatological themes, the thesis is advanced that both texts incorporate traditional sapiential themes within an eschatological world-view and, therefore, James, as wisdom paraenesis, is not novel in combining these two traditions.

1. Introduction

James has had a chequered past in the history of its reception. It has been called a ‘right strawy epistle’1 due to its lack of reference to Christ, it has been marginalized in light of its seeming contradiction of Pauline teaching, it has resisted most attempts at structural analysis, and many have been perplexed over the question of the letter’s genre, not to mention if the text represents a ‘real’ letter at all.2 In the midst of

these interpretive difficulties lies the question of whether or not James should be considered wisdom literature especially in light of the eschatological material present in the text. In recent English-language scholarship the sapiential versus eschatological character of James has been brought to the forefront. On one hand, Patrick Hartin, arguing for a close connection between James and Q, claims that the Wisdom tradition controls the prophetic and eschatological elements found in James.3 On the other hand, Todd Penner argues that, through an inclusio structure of the letter’s opening and closing sections (a ‘framework’ device), the eschatological material shapes and organizes the sapiential traditions.4 He asserts that ‘it is precisely those scholars who fail to recognize the contextual importance of the [eschatological] framework of the main body who most often insist that James is a wisdom document, not just formally, but conceptually as well’.5 In the end, both of these views betray an underlying assumption, namely that the material must be strictly categorized as either wisdom or

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