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Ebionite misrepresentations of St James explained.
at once suggests the former as the true account. But further consideration leads us to question our first rapid inference. Justification and faith seem to have been common terms, Abraham's faith a common example, in the Jewish schools". This fact, if allowed, counteracts the prima facie evidence on the other side, and leaves us free to judge from the tenour of the epistle itself. Now, since in this very passage St James mentions as the object of their vaunted faith, not the fundamental fact of the Gospel ‘Thou believest that God raised Christ from the dead”,” but the fundamental axiom of the law ‘Thou believest that God is one’’; since moreover he elsewhere denounces the mere ritualist, telling him that his ritualism is nothing worth; since lastly the whole tone of the epistle recalls our Lord's denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees, and seems directed against a kindred spirit; it is reasonable to conclude that St James is denouncing not the moral aberrations of the professed disciple of St Paul (for with such he was not likely to be brought into close contact), but the self-complacent orthodoxy of the Pharisaic Christian, who, satisfied with the possession of a pure monotheism and vaunting his descent from Abraham, needed to be reminded not to neglect the still ‘weightier matters’ of a self-denying love. If this view be correct, the expressions of the two Apostles can hardly be compared, for they are speaking, as it were, a different language. But in either case we may acquiesce in the verdict of a recent able writer, more free than most men both from traditional and from reactionary prejudices, that in the teaching of the two Apostles “there exists certainly a striking difference in the whole bent of mind, but no opposition of doctrine'.'
Thus the representation of St James in the canonical Scriptures differs from its Ebionite counterpart as the true portrait from the caricature. The James of the Clementines could not have acquiesced in the apostolic decree, nor could he have held out the right hand of fellowship to St Paul. On the other hand, the Ebionite picture
was not drawn entirely from imagination. A scrupulous observer
* See above, p. 164. “Bleek (Einl, in das N. T. p. 550),
* Rom. x. 9. who however considers that St James
* ii. 19. Comp. Clem. Hom. iii. is writing against perversions of St 6 sq. Paul's teaching.
of the law, perhaps a rigid ascetic, partly from temper and habit, partly from the requirements of his position, he might, without any very direct or conscious falsification, appear to interested partisans of a later age to represent their own tenets, from which he differed less in the external forms of worship than in the vital principles of religion. Moreover during his lifetime he was compromised by those with whom his office associated him. In all revolutionary periods, whether of political or religious history, the leaders of the movement have found themselves unable to control the extravagances of their bigoted and short-sighted followers: and this great crisis of all
was certainly not exempt from the common rule. St Paul is constantly checking and rebuking the excesses of those who professed to honour his name and to adopt his teaching : if we cannot state this of St James with equal confidence, it is because the sources of information are scantier. Of the Judaizers who are denounced in St Paul's Epistles this His relamuch is certain; that they exalted the authority of the Apostles of #. the Circumcision: and that in some instances at least, as members of * the mother Church, they had direct relations with James the Tord's brother. But when we attempt to define these relations, we are lost in a maze of conjecture. The Hebrew Christians whose arrival at Antioch caused the Antioch. rupture between the Jewish and Gentile converts are related to have ‘come from James’ (Gal. ii. 12). Did they bear any commission from him? If so, did it relate to independent matters, or to this very question of eating with the Gentiles? It seems most natural to interpret this notice by the parallel case of the Pharisaic brethren, who had before troubled this same Antiochene Church, “going forth’ from the Apostles and insisting on circumcision and the observance of the law, though they “gave them no orders’ (Acts xv. 24). But on the least favourable supposition it amounts to this, that St James, though he had sanctioned the emancipation of the Gentiles from the law, was not prepared to welcome them as Israelites and admit them as such to full communion: that in fact he had not yet overcome scruples which even St Peter had only relinquished after many
The two Judaizing parties.
years and by a special revelation; in this, as in his recognition of
There are some faint indications that such was the case; and,
set aside this supposition as impossible.
* Several writers representing different schools have agreed in denying the existence of a ‘Christ party.” Possibly the word ‘party' may be too strong to describe what was rather a sentiment than an organization. But if admissible at all, I cannot see how, allowing that there were three parties, the existence of the fourth can be questioned. For (1) the four watchwords are co-ordinated, and there is no indication that 4-yd 38 Xploros, is to be isolated from the others and differently
interpreted. (2) The remonstrance im. mediately following (ueuépara, 3 Xp. arós) shows that the name of Christ, which ought to be common to all, had been made the badge of a party. (3) In 2 Cor. x. 7 the words et ris réroude, éavrò Xpwros, elva, and the description which follows gain force and definite. ness on this supposition. There is in fact more evidence for the existence of a party of Christ than there is of a party of Peter.
which was ready to hand (x. 13—16), who were “false apostles, crafty workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ’ (xi. 13), who ‘commended themselves’ (x. 12, 18), who vaunted their pure Israelite descent (xi. 21–23). It is noteworthy that this party of extreme Judaizers call themselves by the name not of James, but of Christ. This may perhaps be taken as a token that his concessions to Gentile liberty had shaken their confidence in his fidelity to the law. The leaders of this extreme party would appear to have seen Christ in the flesh: hence their watchword “I am of Christ'; hence also St Paul's counter-claim that “he was of Christ’ also, and his unwilling boast that he had himself had visions and revelations of the Lord in abundance (xii. I sq). On the other hand, of the party of Cephas no distinct features are preserved; but the passage itself implies that they differed from the extreme Judaizers, and we may therefore conjecture that they took up a middle position with regard to the law, similar to that which was occupied later by the Nazarenes. In claiming Cephas as the head of their party they had probably neither more nor less ground than their rivals who sheltered themselves under the names of Apollos and of Paul. Is it to these extreme Judaizers that St Paul alludes when he Letters of mentions “certain persons' as “needing letters of recommendation to i.” the Corinthians and of recommendation from them’ (2 Cor. iii. 1)? If so, by whom were these letters to Corinth given? By some half-Judaic, half-Christian brotherhood of the dispersion? By the mother Church of Jerusalem? By any of the primitive disciples? By James the Lord's brother himself? It is wisest to confess plainly that the facts are too scanty to supply an answer. We may well be content to rest on the broad and direct statements in the Acts and Epistles, which declare the relations between St James and St Paul. A habit of suspicious interpretation, which neglects plain facts and dwells on doubtful allusions, is as unhealthy in theological criticism as in social life, and not more conducive to truth. Such incidental notices then, though they throw much light on Inferences the practical difficulties and entanglements of his position, reveal . ese nothing or next to nothing of the true principles of St James. Only
so long as we picture to ourselves an ideal standard of obedience, where the will of the ruler is the law of the subject, will such notices cause us perplexity. But, whether this be a healthy condition for any society or not, it is very far from representing the state of Christendom in the apostolic ages. If the Church had been a religious machine, if the Apostles had possessed absolute control over its working, if the manifold passions of men had been for once annihilated, if there had been no place for misgiving, prejudice, treachery, hatred, superstition, then the picture would have been very different. But then also the history of the first ages of the Gospel would have had no lessons for us. As it is, we may well take courage from the study. However great may be the theological differences and religious animosities of our own time, they are far surpassed in magnitude by the distractions of an age which, closing our eyes to facts, we are apt to invest with an ideal excellence. In the early Church was fulfilled, in its inward dissensions no less than in its outward sufferings, the Master's sad warning that He came ‘not to send peace on earth, but a sword.”