IV Maccabees 1:1 to 2:14

Chapter One
1 Since I am about to exhibit the most philosophical (wisdom-lovingest) argument (logos : the word), whether pious reason is sovereign of passions, I would advise you rightly such that you readily cleave to philosophy (love-of-wisdom). 2 For indeed the word is necessary for knowledge in all things and even of the greatest virtue, indeed I speak of good judgement, it surpasses praise. 3 Whether, perhaps, reason is shown to get mastery of the passions that hinder prudence, both gluttony and lust, 4 but also it is plainly shown to be the lord of the passions that trammel righteousness, that is, malignant habit, and of those passions that trammel bravery, anger, fear and pain.

5 How then, some might ask, if reason has mastery of the passions, is it not the ruler of forgetfulness and ignorance?1—they are trying to say a laughable thing. 6 For reason does not have mastery of its own passions, but rather of those opposed to prudence, and bravery, and righteousness, and of those not so as to destroy them, but rather so as not to yield to them.

7 For many and various reasons, then, I should be able to show you that reason is the autocrat of the passions, 8 far and away I would show this out from the bravery of those who died for the sake of virtue, Eleazar and his seven brothers and their mother. 9 For all of them, by overlooking pains to the point of death, have proven that reason overcomes the passions. 10 For their virtues, then, it is up to me to praise those men, in the prime of life they died with their mother for the sake of the good and noble, and for their honours, I would consider them blessed. 11 For they are admired not only by all men for their bravery and endurance, but also by their torturers, they are conceded to be responsible for destroying the tyranny against their nation, conquering the tyrant with their endurance such that through them their homeland was cleansed. 12 And concerning this, it is possible for me to speak immediately to the main point of my discussion, which I am accustomed to do, and then I will turn to their story, giving glory to all-knowing god.

13 Accordingly, we are seeking whether reason is the autocrat of the passions. 14 We shall consider what reason is, and what passion, and how many are the forms of passions, and whether reason overcomes all of them. 15 Reason, therefore, is the intellect along with correct argument (logos) paying honour to the life of wisdom. 16 Wisdom, accordingly, is acquaintance with matters both human and divine, and the causes of these. 17 This, furthermore, is the cultivation of the law, through which we learn things, the divine with reverence and the human to our profit.

18 And the forms of wisdom are established as good judgement, righteousness, bravery, and prudence. 19 Good judgement is the lordliest of all, by this indeed reason gets mastery of the passions. 20 Two of the passions are an all embracing kinds, both pleasure and pain; of these each singly has begotten concerning the body and concerning the soul.

21 With respect to pleasure and pain, the retinue following from the passions is great. 22 Ahead of pleasure, then, is desire, and after pleasure is joy. 23 Ahead of pain is fear, and after pain is grief. 24 Anger is a passion sharing pleasure and pain, if one reflects what befalls him. 25 There is also within in pleasure a malicious condition, since it is the most fickle of all the passions, 26 and of the soul there is pretension, and avarice, and glory-seeking, and contentious striving, and envy, 27 whereas with respect to the body, over-eating, gluttony, secret eating.2

28 Therefore just as pleasure and pain are two plants of the body and the soul, many are the offshoots of these plants, 29 for each of which the master-gardener is reason, which cleanses, prunes, twines, irrigates and turns every pot, and reclaims the woodland of habits and passions. 30 For reason is chief of the virtues, autocrat of the passions. Therefore examine it first, through deeds that hinder prudence, because reason is sovereign over passions. 31 Prudence, accordingly, has mastery of lust, 32 and of lusts there are those of the soul and those of the body, and over both of these, reason is shown to have mastery. 33 Otherwise whence, stirred to forbidden foods, do we turn away from their pleasures? Is it not that reason has power to overcome the reach of our hand? Indeed, I know it is. 34 Well then, although we desire food of all kinds—whether that of the waters, or the birds, or four-footed— that forbidden to us according to the law, we abstain on account of reason’s mastery. 35 For the passions of our reaching hand are held back, restrained by measured thought, and all the stirrings of the body are muzzled by reason.

1. This makes more sense in Greek. The word used for passions or emotions, πάθα, can in another sense refer to misfortunes or ordeals, and means generally, things experienced.
2. More literally, everything-eating, gluttony, and alone-eating. Secret eating is a rather strained translation. The point behind alone-eating is not that the eater is shamefully hiding their activity, but rather that eating is supposed to be a social activity. The person who eats alone violates social norms, shunning the company of others.

Chapter Two
1 And why is it astonishing if the lusts of the soul are cancelled by the communion of beauty? 2 In this, at least, temperate Joseph is praised, because, by his manner of thought, he prevailed over sensual pleasure. 3 For although he was young and in his prime for companionship, he cancelled the frenzy of the passions with reason.
4 And reason is shown to have mastery not only over the mad passion of sensual pleasure, but also all other lusts. 5 For the law says, Do not lust after your neighbour’s wife nor after your neighbour’s possessions. 6 And indeed when the law tells us not to lust, far and away I would persuade you that reason has power to get mastery of your lusts, and likewise the passions that hinder righteousness.
7 When someone who has a certain manner, being accustomed to secret-eating and gluttony or even drunkenness, is re-educated, is it not clear that reason is lord of the passions? 8 Immediately, at least, he who is a citizen under the law, if someone is avaricious, he breaks his manner toward those in need by lending without interest and sets himself to be defrauded the loan during the seventh year. 9 And if someone is miserly, he is mastered by the law through reason so that he does not cull the harvest, nor cut the grapes from the vines. And in each case it is possible to recognize this, that reason is master of the passions.
10 For the law even gets mastery of goodwill toward the parents so as not to utterly betray virtue on their account, 11 and it overcomes love for your wife, to chastise her for her transgressions, 12 and it masters your love for your children, to punish them when they are bad, 13 and it rules over the companionship of your friends, to charge them for their faults.
14 And do not make a custom of being contrary, where reason even has power to get mastery of hatred through the law, so that you do not cut down the cultivated plants of your enemies, and save those of your hated foes from being destroyed, and gathering together what has fallen.

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The Testament of Asher

Chapter One
1 A transcript of the testament of Asher which he spoke to his sons on the hundred and twentieth year of his life. 2 When he was still healthy, he said to them: Listen children of Asher, to your father, and I will show you all that is righteous in the face of god. 3 God granted two paths to the sons of humans, and two dispositions, and two actions, and two positions, and two ends. 4 For this reason all things are two, one the opposite other. 5 These are of two kinds, good and evil: among these, there are two dispositions in our breasts discerning them. 6 If, then, the soul is willing in the good, its every action is in righteousness, and if it sins, it repents immediately. 7 For he who gives thought to what is fitting, and casts off wickedness, immediately he overthrows the evil, and uproots sin. 8 But if the disposition inclines to wickedness, all its action is in wickedness. And he who thrusts away from the noble, fastens to evil and he is ruled by Beliar, and if he does a noble thing, he turns it around to wickedness. 9 For whenever he makes a beginning to do a noble thing, he drives the end of his action to do toward the evil; because the storehouse of the slanderer has been filled with the wicked spirit of poison.

Chapter Two
1 There is, then, a soul that speaks, saying the good for the sake of evil, and the end of the matter goes toward evilness. 2 There is a person that does not feel pity for one serving him in evil; and indeed this is two-faced, but the whole is wicked. 3 And there is a man who loved one who acts wickedly, in a like manner he is in wickedness, because he chose to die in evil due to him. And concerning this, it is manifest that it is two-faced, but the entire action is evil. 4 And indeed, although it is love, it is wickedness, concealing the evil; as if it is in the name of the noble, but the end of the action works to the evil. 5 One man steals, wrongs, plunders, is greedy, and shows mercy to beggars; this is also two-faced, and the whole is wicked. 6 He who takes his neighbour’s share angers God, and he forswears the most high, and he shows mercy to the beggar; he breaks faith with the Lord who commands the law, and provokes him, and he hinders the labourer; 7 He stains the soul and shines the body; he destroys many and shows mercy on few; and this indeed is two-faced. 8 Another man commits adultery, and prostitutes himself, but he avoids the shameful, and although he fasts, he does evil, and with his power and his wealth, he overpowers many, and from the evil of excess he does the commandments. But this is two-faced, and the whole is evil. 9 Men of this sort are like swine, split-foot, because they are half purified, but the truth is unclean. 10 For thus said God in the tablets of the heavens.

Chapter Three
You, then, my children, do not become two-faced like them, of goodness and evilness, but rather to goodness alone be glued, because God settles upon it, and people long for it. 2 Do away with the evilness, destroying the slanderer in your noble doings, because the two-faced are slaves, not to God but to their desires, so that they might appease Beliar and people like themselves.

Chapter Four
For the noble and single-minded men, even if they are believed to sin by the two-faced, are righteous with God. 2 For many, destroying the wicked, do two deeds, the evil on account of the good, and the whole is good, because he has uprooted and destroyed the evil. 3 There is someone who hates the pitiful, but wrongs the adulterer and the robber. And this is two-faced; but the whole deed is noble, because he imitates the Lord, not welcoming what seems good with genuine evil. 4 The other does not wish to see a good day among the profligate, so that he might not pollute the mouth, and he does not sully the soul; and this too is two-faced, but the whole is good, 5 because men of this kind are like the deer and gazelles; because in the custom of the wild they seem to be unclean, but on the whole, they are purified, because they proceed in the zeal of God, departing from that which God also hates, and forbids through his commandments, they warded the evil from the good.

Chapter Five
1 See then, children, how there are two in all things, one opposite the other, and one is hidden by the other. 2 Death takes over life, as dishonour does esteem, and the night the day, and the darkness the light; and all things are under the day, and all righteous things under life; on account of which eternal life awaits death; 3 and it is not possible to say that a falsehood is the truth, nor a wrong the righteous thing; because the whole truth is under the power of the light, just as all things are to God. 4 In my life, I put all these things to the test, and I was not led astray from the truth of the Lord, and I sought out the commandments of the most high, to the best of all my strength, conveying myself single-mindedly toward the noble.

Chapter Six
1 Therefore, children, be you also intent upon the commandments of the Lord, single-mindedly, guided by the truth, 2 because the two-faced are doubly chastised. Hate the spirits of error, they that contest for one person after another. 3 Keep the law of the Lord, and be not intent upon the evil as the good, but rather pay attention to the truly good, observe it closely in all the commandments of the Lord, rallying yourselves to him, and abiding in him, 4 because the ends of men show their righteousness, when they meet the messengers of the Lord and of Satan. 5 For if the soul departs disquieted, it is put to the rack by the wicked spirit, of whom it was also a slave in desires and wicked deeds; 6 but if quietly in joy, it met the messenger of peace, it will summon him in life.

Chapter Seven
1 Do not become, children, like Sodom, which did not recognize the messengers of the Lord, and it was destroyed for eternity. 2 For I know that you will sin, and you will be handed over into the hands of your hated foes; and your land will be laid waste, and you will be scattered to the four corners of the earth, and you will be in the diaspora, exhausted, like useless water, 3 until the most high visits the earth, and he himself coming like a man, eating and drinking with men, and in silence crushing the head of the serpent through water. This man will save Israel and all the tribes, God playing the part in a man. 4 Therefore tell these things to your children, and do not disobey him. 5 For I read in the tablets of heaven that being unpersuaded, you will disobey him, and being impious, you will sin against him, and being not intent upon the law of the Lord, but rather in the commandments of men. 6 Because of this, you will be scattered, like my brothers, Gad and Dan, who will not recognize their own lands, nor their clan, nor tongue. 7 But the Lord will gather you in faith, on account of the hope of his good heart, on account of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.

Chapter 8
1 And once he told them these things, he enjoined them, saying: Bury me in Hebron. And falling into sweet sleep, he died; 2 and after that, his sons did as he enjoined them, and bearing him away, they buried with his fathers.

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James 4-5

Chapter 4

1 Whence opponents and whence fights among you? From there? From your pleasures that campaign among your limbs? 2 You yearn but you do not have, you kill and you are jealous and you are not able to obtain, you fight and battle but you do not have due to not asking. 3 You ask and you do not receive because you ask badly, so that you might spend on your pleasures. 4 Adulteresses, do you not know that love of the world is hatred of god? For if one wishes to be beloved of the world, he is put down as a hated enemy of god. 5 Or do you think that the scripture speaks in vain: that he yearns with envy for the spirit which dwells within you, 6 but he grants greater grace? On which account it says:

God sets himself against the arrogant, To the humble he grants grace.

7 Therefore, be subject to god, set yourself against the slanderer, and he will flee from you, 8 draw near to god and he draws near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your heart, ye double-souled. 9 Endure hardship and lament and weep. Let your laughter turn into grief and joy to sorrow. 10 Be humble in the face of the lord and he will exalt you.

11 Do not speak against each other, brethren. He who speaks against his brother and he who judges his brother speaks against the law, and judges the law; and if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but rather a judge of it. 12 There is one law-giver and judge, who has the power to save and to destroy; who are you, who judges his neighbour?

13 Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will march to that city and we will spend a year there, and we will trade and we will make a profit? 14 Not any of you know what sort of tomorrow your life is; for you are a mist, manifesting briefly, and then done away with. 15 Instead, you are to say: if the lord wishes it, we also will live and we will do this or that. 16 But now, you brag in your pretensions; every boast of this sort is wickedness. 17 He who knows, therefore, to do good and does not do it, this is a sin for him.

Chapter Five

1 Come now, wealthy men, cry, ululating over the hardships that come upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted and your clothing has become moth-eaten, 3 your gold and silver has rusted and the venom of these things will be as a witness to you and it will eat your flesh like fire. You hoarded away to the very last days. 4 Behold, the wage of the workers who reaped your lands, he who was defrauded wails on your account, and the cries of those who reaped have reached the ears of the lord of hosts. 5 You fared sumptuously upon the earth and you lived in indulgence, and you fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter, 6 you condemned, you killed the righteous man, he did not set himself against you.

7 Be therefore of long sufferance, brothers, until the arrival of the lord. Behold, the farmer welcomes the prized fruit of the earth, suffering long for it until it receives the early rains and the late. 8 Be you also of long sufferance, make fast your hearts, because the presence of the lord draws near. 9 Do not groan, brethren, against each other, so that you may not be judged: behold, the judge stands before the gates. 10 Take the warning, brethren, of the affliction and of the long-sufferance, with respect to the prophets, who spoke in the name of the lord. 11 Behold, we bless the endurers: you have heard the endurance of Job, and you know the ends of the lord, because the lord is much-pitying and merciful. 12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear oaths, not by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor any other oath: let your yea be yea and your no no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

13 Who among you is afflicted? Let him offer prayers. Who is joyful? Let him sing hymns. 14 Who among you is feeble? Let him summon the elders of the assembly, and let them offer prayers for him, anointing him with oil in the name of the lord, 15 and the vow of faith will save the sick, and the lord raises him: and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven by the lord. 16 Confess to each other, therefore, your sins and pray for each other so that you might be healed. The entreaty of the righteous, if it is employed, is very powerful. 17 Elijah was a man similarly afflicted as us, and with prayers offered he offered prayers that it not rain, and rain did not fall upon the earth for three years and six months: 18 and again he offered prayers and the heaven gave rain, and the earth sprouted her fruit.

19 My brothers, if someone among you strays from the truth, and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brought the sinner back from his erroneous path will save his soul from death and he covers a multitude of sins.

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Two Letters to the Diaspora

Jeremiah 29 [36]: 1-32

1 And these are the words of the book which Jeremiah sent out from Jerusalem to the elders of the captivity and to the priests and to the false prophets, a letter to Babylon in captivity and to the whole host 2 after the departure of Jechonias the king and the queen and the eunuchs and the entirety of the free and the captive and the craftsman from Jerusalem 3 by the hand of Eleasan, son of Saphan, and Gamarios son of Chelkios, whom Sedekiasm king of Judah sent to the king of Babylon in Babylon saying, thus said the god of Israel to the captivity which I deported from Jerusalem: 5 Build houses and dwell in them and grow orchards and eat the fruit of them 6 and take wives and give birth to sons and daughters and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands and be multiplied and not diminished, 7 and seek peace in the land to which I have deported you, and in that place pray for them to the lord, because in the peace of that land there will be peace for you. 8 For thus said the lord: Let not the false prophets who are among you persuade you, and let not your seers persuade you and do not heed your dreams which you dream, 9 because they prophesy unjust things for you against my name and I did not send them. 10  For thus said the lord: When you are nearly completed seventy years in Babylon, I will number you and I will impose my words upon you of recalling your host to this place: 11 and I will calculate a calculation of peace for you, and of giving you these things, not evils. 12  And pray to me and I will heed you; 13 And seek me out and you will find me because you will seek me in your whole heart, 14 and I will be manifest to you – because you said, “The lord has placed prophets for us in Babylon,” 21 thus said the lord concerning Achiab and concerning Sedekias, Behold, I give them into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will smite them before your eyes 22 and they will receive from them a curse in the entire captivity in Judah in Babylon, saying, “May the lord make you as he made Sedekian and Achiab, whom the king of Babylon fried in fire,” 23 by which they made lawless conduct in Israel and they adulterated the wives of their fellow citizens and they pronounced word in my name which I did not prescribe for them and I am witness says the lord.

24 And he says to Samaias the Nelamite, 25 “I did not send you by my name,” and to Sophonias the son of Mahasaios, “Tell the priest: 26 The lord gave you into the priesthood instead of the priest Jodae to become a commander in the house of the lord for every person who prophecies and for every man who divines, and you will give him to the guard-house and to the trap-door. 27 And now, for what reason did you revile together Jeremiah from Anathoth who prophesied to you? 28 Was he not sent to you in Babylon for this purpose, saying, It is far away; build houses and dwell in them, and plant orchards and eat their fruit?

29 And Sophonias read the book into the ears of Jeremiah, 30 and the word of the lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 31 Send to the captivity saying, Thus said the lord concerning Samaias the Nelamite: Since Samaias prophesied to you and I did not send him and he made you to be persuaded by injustices, 32 because of this, thus said the lord, Behold, I will reflect upon Samaias and upon his tribe and there will not be a person among them in your midst to see the good things, that which I will make for you they will not see.

2 Maccabees 1:1-9

1 For the brethren, those Jews throughout the captivity, greetings, the brethren, the Jews in Jerusalem, those in the land of Judea, good peace; 2 and may god do good for you and may he remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, his faithful servants; 3 and may he give you courage in everything to worship him and to do his will with great courage and with a willing spirit; 4 and may he reveal our courage in his law and in his command and may he make peace 5 and may he heed your entreaties and may he reconcile with you and may he not abandon you at a wretched time.

6 And presently here we are offering prayers on your behalf. 7 During the reign of Demetrius, in the one hundred sixty-ninth year, we Jews wrote to you in the oppression and in the peak coming upon us in those years after which Jason revolted and those with him from the holy land and from the kingdom 8 and they burned the gates and shed innocent blood; and we beseeched the lord and we were heard and we brought in a sacrifice and the finest flour and lighted the lamps and set out the loaves. 9 And now so that you might lead the days of the tabernacles of the month of Chaseleus during the one hundred eighty eighth year.

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James 3:1-18

1 Do not many become teachers, my brothers, understanding that we will receive a great judgement. 2 For we all stumble many times. If someone does not stumble in the word, he is a perfected man, able to keep the whole body in check. 3 And if of horses we cast the bridle into their mouths for them to be obedient to us, we also lead their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, being so great and driven by harsh winds, it is nonetheless led by the smallest rudder where ever the impulse of the steersman wishes: 5 so too the tongue is a small appendage but boasts greatly. Behold how much fire kindles so much wood: 6 the tongue is also fire, a world of unrighteousness, the tongue is appointed among our appendages, defiling the whole body, burning up the wheel of creation and itself burned up by Gehenna. 7 For the all kinds of beasts and flying creatures, creeping things and sea-creatures is tamed and has been tamed by human nature: 8 but the tongue of man no one is able to tame: a fickle evil full of deadly poison. 9 In it we praise the lord and father, and in it we curse men who have been made in the likeness of god: 10 from the same mouth come blessings and curses. My brothers, things ought not be thus. 11 Surely a spring does not gush from the same opening, both sweet and bitter? 12 My brothers, would a fig tree make olives, or a vine figs? Or sweet water make salt?

13 Who is wise and knowledgeable among you? Let him show his works by noble conduct in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 If you hold bitter rivalry and conniving ambition in your heart, do not exult in it or be deceptive with respect to the truth. 15 This wisdom is not come down from above, but rather it is earthly, animalistic, demonic. 16 For where rivalry and conniving ambition are, there too upheaval and every sorry affair. 17 Wisdom from above is, first of all, sacred and then, peaceful, fair, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unambiguous, and unfeigned. 18 And in peace the fruit of righteousness is sown for those who make peace.

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James 2: 1-26

1 My brothers, do not hold the faith of our lord of glory, Jesus Christ, in partialities.1 2 For if a gold-fingered man2 enters your synagogue in radiant clothing, and a beggar enters in filthy clothing, 3 and you attend the one wearing radiant clothing and say: “Kindly rest yourself down here,” and to the beggar say, “Stand there, or rest under my footstool,” 4 do you not equivocate among yourselves and become judges of base consideration?

5 Listen, my beloved brothers: does god not choose beggars with respect to the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him? 6 But you dishonour the beggar. Do wealthy men not oppress you and drag you to court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the good name invoked over you?

8 If, indeed, you fulfil the royal law, as it is written: “You will love your neighbour as yourself,” then you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you labour at sin, shamed by the law as a transgressor. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but blunders in one, has become guilty of everything. 11 For he who says: “Do not commit adultery,” says also, “Do not murder,” and if you do not commit adultery but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

12 Thusly speak and thusly do like men about to be judged according to the law of liberty. 13 For judgement is merciless for the man who does not enact mercy; and mercy exults over judgement.

14 What is the profit, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but has not works? Might faith not save him? 15 If a brother or a sister find themselves naked and lacking their daily bread 16 and one from among you says to them: “Go forth in peace, be warmed and fed,” but do not give them the necessities of the body, what is the profit? 17 Likewise faith, if it has not works, is dead by itself.

18 But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you faith from my works. You have faith that god is one, you do well; but even the demons have faith and they tremble.

20 Are you willing to understand, you empty-handed man, that faith without works is idle? 21 Was not our father Abraham justified by works when he carried his son Isaac up to the sacrificial altar? 22 You see that faith works together with his deeds and by works, faith is consummated, 23 and scripture is fulfilled, saying: “Abraham had faith in god, and it is reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he is called beloved of god. 24 You see that by works a person is justified and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not even Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she harboured the messengers and sent them off by another way? 26 For just as the body without spirit is dead, so too faith without works is dead.

1. There is a real problem with the Greek in 2:1. A more literal translation of the Greek might be, My brothers, do not in partialities hold the faith of our lord, of Jesus Christ, of glory. No one really knows what to do with that of glory at the end. I’ve made a decision about how to handle it, but there’s no guarantee that it’s the right one, and many other proposals have been made over the years. Some scholars have proposed that the words of Jesus Christ are an interpolation. This actually does solve the problem, and you end up with a phrase, the lord of glory that occurs plenty of times in the Old Testament. Another, less difficult concern is the prepositional phrase I’ve translated as in partialities. The Greek word here is pretty rare. I think it occurs only in one of the Pauline epistles, in a different form in Acts of the Apostles, and in Clement. The meaning I’ve chosen seems fine; it matches well with the following discussion, but other translators have handled it differently. Do take a look a different translations of the Bible and see how they’ve dealt with James 2:1 (I recommend http://www.biblegateway.com if you don’t have a few different translations on the shelf). Young’s Literal Translation, the King James Version, and New International Version all handle the verse in distinctly different ways.
2. I’ve translated the Greek here, ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος, very literally. It refers, obviously, to a wealthy man with many gold rings on his finger. This word χρυσοδακτύλιος was sometimes used to refer to Romans of the equestrian class, who wore an insignia ring denoting their station. Some scholars have used this as evidence that the author of this epistle was writing from Rome, but it’s not an especially strong argument.

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James 1: 1-27

I’ve started a class that examines the epistle of James, so there will be a series of translations related to that. I’m not sure if the entire letter will be assigned (it’s short and the Greek is not difficult) but here is the first part.

1 James, slave of god and lord Jesus Christ to the twelve tribes in the Diaspora, greetings.

2 Believe eveything a joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter manifold trials, 3 knowing that the test of your faith wins endurance; 4 and let endurance bear the perfected work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 And if any of you is lacking wisdom, ask it from god, who gives unequivocally to all and does not cast reproach, and it shall be given by him. 6 Ask in faith, doubting nothing, for he who doubts is like the wave of the sea, driven by the wind and blown about; 7 let not that person believe that he will receive anything from the lord, 8 the double-souled man, disorderly in all his ways.

9 Let him boast, the brother humbled in his summit, 10 and the wealthy man in his humiliation, since like the bloom of the pasturage he will be passed unnoticed. 11 For the sun has risen with the summer heat and has parched the pasturage and the bloom has been cast out of it, and the beauty of its face has been destroyed; so too the wealthy man in his journeys will wither away.

12 Blessed is the man who faces a trial, because he becomes esteemed and will receive the crown of life, which was promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one who suffers trials say, “I am tested by god.” For god is incapable of being tested by evils, and he himself tests no one. 14 But each man is tested by his own yearning, he is drawn out and baited; 15 Thereafter, his yearning, seizing him, gives birth to sin, and sin, once accomplished, brings forth death.

16 Do not go astray, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, come down from the father of lights,1 with whom there is no variation or shadow of change 18 Willingly, he brought us forth by the word of truth, for us to be the first fruits of his creations.

19 Know this, my beloved brothers. Let every man be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of god.

21 On which account, by holding back all the filth and surplus of vice, welcome with gentleness the innate word, which has the power to save your souls. 22 Become doers of the word and not mere hearers who mislead themselves with false reasoning. 23 For if someone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who perceives the face of his origin in a mirror; 24 for he perceived himself and had departed and immediately forgot where he was.

25 But he who has peered at the fulfilled law of freedom and has stood fast, becoming not a hearer of forgetfulness, but rather a doer of the deed, he will be blessed in his composition. 26 If someone seems to be religious, yet does not rein his tongue but rather cheats his heart, his religious worship is empty. 27 The religious worship that is spotless and undefiled with the god and father is this: to watch over for the orphans and widows in their oppression, to keep himself unblemished by the world.

1. The Greek word used here for light is φώς, which also means man. The double meaning is probably intentional, but light fits better with the light/shadow pairing of this verse.

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