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Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James
Luke Timothy Johnson

0802809863 Retail Price: $32.00
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Format: Paperback, 290pp.
ISBN: 0802809863
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pub. Date: February 2004

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From The Publisher:

The letter of James has enjoyed a colorful history, with its background and significance widely debated over the centuries. In this book an outstanding scholar of the New Testament offers new and selected studies of James that show its roots in antiquity and its importance for Christian history and theology.

Luke Timothy Johnson explores the letter of James from a variety of perspectives. After a general introduction to James, he looks at its history of interpretation. Johnson then examines James's social and historical situation, its place within Scripture, and its use of the sayings of Jesus. Several exegetical studies take care to place James in the context of Hellenistic moral discourse. Two concluding essays look at the themes of friendship and gender in James.

While seemingly of interest only to professionals, Johnson's Brother of Jesus, Friend of God will also be accessible to general readers serious about Bible study, and church groups will find this volume to be a fruitful entry into an important portion of the New Testament.


Luke Timothy Johnson rightly argues that the Epistle of James provides important evidence for any study of the brother of the Lord. His work in writing commentaries on James and Acts fits him well for the approach that he has adopted. He argues that his study of the epistle reveals the voice of James, a voice that “agrees substantially with the best reading of Luke and Paul with respect to the historical James.” Not all readers will agree with this reading, but Johnson makes a strong case for the value of the epistle in understanding the life and mission of the brother of the Lord. Anyone interested in James — the epistle and the person — will want to read this book.
—John Painter

This fine collection from Luke Timothy Johnson, a leading interpreter of the Letter of James, offers advanced Bible students a fluent and full introduction to the letter’s composition, canonization, theological contribution, and history within the early church. Although Johnson’s book is scholarly in purview, including extensive notes and a current bibliography, his evident purpose is to set James within a context where current interpreters can better retrieve meaning in a way that underscores the letter’s continuing importance for forming a more vital Christian faith. Johnson accomplishes this purpose with uncommon skill and grace.
—Robert W. Wall

With this welcome study of the background, theology, and interpretation of the Letter of James, Luke Timothy Johnson rehabilitates this New Testament book both from the disparagement it has suffered in church history and from those for whom its theological vision remains marginal today. Read in concert with Johnson’s premier commentary on James, this book urges forms of discipleship marked by community and integrity — a way of life oriented radically around the gift-giving God.
—Joel B. Green


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About the Author

Luke Timothy Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. His other books include The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, The Creed: What Christian Believe and Why It Matters, The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels, and commentaries on James and the Pastoral Epistles for the Anchor Bible.

Table of Contents



PROLOGUE: James’s Significance for Early Christian History

An Introduction to the Letter of James

A Survey of the History of Interpretation of James

The Reception of James in the Early Church

Journeying East with James: A Chapter in the History of Interpretation

How James Won the West: A Chapter in the History of Canonization

The Social World of James: Literary Analysis and Historical Reconstruction

The Use of Leviticus 19 in the Letter of James

The Sayings of Jesus in the Letter of James

Taciturnity and True Religion: James 1:26-27

The Mirror of Remembrance: James 1:22-25

James 3:13–4:10 and the Topos περì Φθóνoυ

Friendship with the World and Friendship with God: A Study of Discipleship in James

Gender in the Letter of James: A Surprising Witness

EPILOGUE: The Importance of James for Theology

Index of Authors

Index of Scripture References

Index of Ancient Sources

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