« السابقةمتابعة »
THE CATHOLIC EPISTLES-CHAP. XIV. Julian Pe
neral, to caution them against the prevalent Evils of the Jerusalem. riod, 4775. Vulgarfra, 62,
nion, which, however, does not appear to be well founded.
The Epistle of St. James was, indeed, written to the Chris-
tians of the twelve tribes of Israel, in their several dispersions ;
but it was not inscribed to the Christians in Judea, nor to
Gentile Christians in any country whatever. The two Epistles
of Peter were written to Christians in general, but particularly
those who had been converted from Judaism. The first Epistle
of John, and the Epistle of Jude, were probably written to
Jewish Christians; and the second and third Epistles of John
were unquestionably written to particular persons.
A third opinion is that of Dr. Hammond, adopted by Dr.
Macknight, and others, wbich appears the most probable. He
supposes that the first Epistle of Peter and the first Epistle of
John, having from the beginning been received as authentic,
obtained the name of catholic, or universally acknowledged,
and therefore canonical epistles, in order to distinguish them
from the Epistle of James, the second of Peter, the second and
third of John, and the Epistle of Jude, concerning which
doubts were at first entertained. But their authenticity being
at length acknowledged by the generality of the Churches, they
also obtained the name of catholic, or universally received
epistles, and were esteemed of equal authority with the rest.
They were also termed canonical by Cassiodorus in the mid-
dle of the sixth century, and by the writer of the prologue
to these epistles, erroneously ascribed to Jerome. Du
Pin says, that some Latin writers have called these epistles
canonical, either confounding the name with catholic, or to
denote that they are a part of the canon of the books of the
The denomination of Catholic Epistles is of very considerable antiquity, for Eusebius uses it as a common appellation in the fourth century, and it is probably earlier : for St. John's first epistle is repeatedly called a catholic epislle by Origen, and by Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria. Of these epistles, two only, viz. the first Epistle of St. Peter and the first Epistle of St. John, were universally received in the time of Eusebius; though the rest were then well known. And Athanasius, Epiphanius, and later Greek writers, received seven epistles, which they called catholic. The same appellation was also given to them by Jerome.
Although the authenticity of the Epistle of James, the second of Peter, the Epistle of Jude, and the second and third Epistles of John, were questioned by some ancient fathers, as well as by some modern writers, yet we have every reason to believe that they are the genuine and authentic productions of the inspired writers whose names they bear. The primitive Christians were cxtremely and necessarily cautious in admitting any books into their canon, whose genuineness and authenticity they had any reason to suspect. They rejected all the writings forged by heretics in the names of the apostles, and therefore, most assuredly, would not have received any, without subjecting them to a severe scrutiny. Now, though these five epistles were not immediately acknowledged as the writings of the apostles, this only shows that the persons, who doubted, had not obtained complete and incontestible evidence of their authenticity. But, as they were afterwards universally received, we have every reason to conclude, that, upon a strict examination, they wero
Day-lo rectify the Errors into which many had fallen Jerusalem. riod, 4776. Vulgar Æra,
found to be the genuine productions of the apostles. Indeed, 62.
the ancient Christians had such good opportunities for examin-
ing this subject, they were so careful to guard against imposi-
tion, and so well founded was their judgment concerning the
books of the New Testament, that, as Dr. Lardner has remark-
ed, no writing which they pronounced genuine has yet been
proved spurious; por have we at this day the least reason to
believe any book to be genuine which they rejected.
The order, in which these epistles are placed varies in ancient
authors; but it is not very material in what manner they are
arranged. Could we fix with certainty the date of each epistle,
the most patural order would be according to the time when
they were written. Some have placed the three Epistles of St.
John first, probably because he was the beloved disciple of our
Lord. Others have given the priority to the two Epistles of St.
Peter, because they considered him as the prince of the apos-
tles. Some have placed the Epistle of James last, possibly be-
cause it was later received into the canon by the Christian
Church in general. By others, this epistle has been placed
first, either because it was conjectured to have been the first
written of the seven Epistles, or because St. James was sup-
posed to bave been the first Bishop of Jerusalem, the most an-
cient and venerable, and the first of all the Christian Churches;
or because the epistle was written to the Christians of the
twelve tribes of Israel, who were the first believers.
There have been a variety of different opinions, both as to
the author of this epistle, and the time in which it was written.
The arguments of Macknight and Lardner, who attribute it to
James the Less, are generally considered satisfactory.
In the catalogue of the apostles, Matt. X. 2. Mark iii. 16.
Luke vi. 14. Acts i. 13. we find two persons of the name of
James; the first was the son of Zebedee, Matt. x. 2. the second,
in all the catalogues, is called the son of Alpheus ; one of these
apostles is called, Gal. i. 19. the Lord's brother. Wherefore as
there were only twelve apostles, and as James, the son of Zebe-
dee, so far as we know, was in no respect related to our Lord,
the apostle called James, the Lord's brother, must bave been
James, the son of Alpheus, called also James the Less, or
younger, whose relation to Cbrist will appear by comparing
Mark xv. 40. with John ix. 25. In the former passage, Mark,
speaking of the women who were present at the crucifixion,
“ there were also women looking on afar off, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less, and of Joses and Salome.” To the latter passage, Jobn, speaking of the same womon, says, “ There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene:" wherefore our Lord's mother's sister Mary, the wife of Cleophas, mentioned by John, is, in all probability, the person whom Mark calls Mary, thé mother of James the Less, and of Joses : consequently, ber sons James and Joses, were our Lord's cousins-german by his mother. And as the Hebrews called all near relations brethren, it is more than probable that James, the son of Alpheus, who was our Lord's cousin-german, is James the Lord's brother, mentioned Gal. i. 19.-Three circumstances confirm this opinion. 1. James and Joses, the sons of Mary, our Lord's mother's sister, are expressly called the brethren of Jesus, Matt. xiii. 15. Mark vi. 2.--James, the son of our Lord's mother's sister, being distinguished from another James, by the appellation of the Less, Mark xv. 40. There is good reasou to sup
AUTHOR OF THIS EPISTLE CHAP. XIV. Julian Pe by misinterpreting St. Paul's Doctrine of Justification, Jerusalem. riod, 4775. Valgar Æra,
and to enforce various Duties. 62.
pose that he is the James whom Mark, in his catalogue, distin-
guishes from James, the son of Zebedee, by the appellation of
the son of Alpheus. It is true, Mary, the mother of James and
Josos, is called the wife of Cleophas, John xix. 25. But Cleo-
phas and Alpheus are the same name, differently pronounced;
the one according to the Hebrew, and the other according to the
Greek orthography.-3. of the persons called the brethren of
Jesus, Matt. xiii. 59. there are three mentioned in the cata-
logue of apostles, James, and Simon, and Judas. They, I sup-
pose, are the brethren of the Lord who are said, as apostles,
to have had a right to lead about a sister or a wife, &c.
1 Cor. ix. 5. Jerome likewise, thought James, the Lord's bro-
ther, was so called, because he was the son of Mary, our
Lord's mother's sister. Lardner, Canon. vol. iii. p. 63. says,
“ Jerome seems to have been the first who said our Lord's
brethren were the sons of his mother's sister;" and that this
opinion was at length embraced by Augustine, and has pre-
vailed very much of late, being the opinion of the Romanists
in general; and of Lightfoot, Witsius, Lampe, and many of
the Protestants. On the other band, Origen, Epiphanius, and
other ancient writers, both Greeks and Latins, were of opi-
nion that James, the Lord's brother, was not the son of the
Virgin's sister, but of Joseph, our Lord's reputed father, by a
former wife, who died before be espoused the Virgin. of lhe
same opinion were Vossius, Baspage, and Cave, among the
Protestants; and Valesius among the Romanists. Epiphanius
and Theophylact supposed that Joseph's first wife was the
widow of Alpheus, who being Joseph's brother, Joseph mar-
ried her, to raise up seed to him, and therefore James, the
issue of that marriage, was fitly called the son of Alpheus, and
brother of our Lord.
James the Less, the son of Alpheus, therefore, we conclude
to have been not only the Lord's near relation, but an apostle
whom, as is generally supposed, he honoured in a particular
manner, by appearing to him alone, after his resurrection, 1
Cor. xv. 7. These circumstances, together with his own per-
sonal merit, rendered him of such note among the apostles, that
they appointed him to reside at Jerusalem, and to superintend
the Church there. This appointment, Lardner says, was made
soon after the martyrdom of Stephen : and in support of this opi-
nion he observes, « that Peter always speaks first, as president
among the apostles, until after the choice of the seven deacons."
Every thing said of St. James after that implies his presiding in
the Church of Jerusalem, Canon, vol. iii. p. 28. For example,
when the apostles and elders at Jerusalem came together to
consider whetber it was needful to circumcise the Gentiles after
there had been much disputing, Peter spake, Acts xv. 7. then
Barnabas and Paul, ver. 12. And when they had ended, James
summed up the whole, and proposed the terms on which the
Gentiles were to be received into the Church, ver. 19–21. to
which the whole assembly agreed, and wrote letters to the Gen.
tiles, conformably to the opinion of James, ver. 22. 29. From
this it is inferred, that James presided in the council of Jerusa-
lem, because he was president of the Church in that city.
Chrysostom, in his Homily on Acts xv. says, "James was Bishop of Jerusalem, and thercfore spake last."*" In the time of this council Paul communicated the Gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, to three of the apostles, whom he calls pillars, and tells us, that when they perceived the inspiration and mi
$1, JAMES i. 1-12.
Jerusalem, riod, 4775. Vulyar Æra, James addresses the twelve Tribes, particularly the Jewish 62.
raculous powers which he possessed, they gave him the right hand
of fellowship, mentioning James first, Gal. ii. 9. And knowing
the grace that was bestowed on me, James, Cephas, and Joho,
who were pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of
fellowship. This implies that James, whom in the first chapter
he bad called the Lord's brother, was not only an apostle, but
the presiding apostle in the Church at Jerusalem. In the same
chapter Paui's giving an account of wbat happened after the
council says, ver. 11, “When Peter was come to Antioch, before
that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles ;
but when they were come he withdrew, and separated himself
from them who were of the circumcision. This shews that
James resided at Jerusalem, and presided in the Church there,
and was greatly respected by the Jewish believers. The same
circumstance appears from Acts xxi, 17. where, giving an ac-
count of St. Paul's journey to Jerusalem, with the collections
from the saints in Judea,St. Luke says, ver. 18,"St. Paul went in
with us to James, and all the elders were present." Farther, the
respect in which James was held by the apostles, appears from
two facts recorded by St. Luke; the first is, when St. Paul came
to Jerusalem, three years after his conversion, Barnabas took
him, and brought him to Peter and James, as the chief apostles.
Compare Acts xix. 27. with Gal. i. 9. The second fact is, after
Peter was miraculously delivered out of prison, about the time
of the passover, in the year 44, he came to the house of Mary,
where many were gathered together praying, Aots xii. 12. and
when he had declared to them how the Lord had brought him
out of the prison, he said, “Go shew these things to James, and
to the brethren,” ver. 17. These particulars are mentioned by
Lardner, and before him by Whitby and Cave, to shew that
James, the Lord's brother, was really an apostle, in the strict
acceptation of the word; consequently, that Eusebius was mis-
taken when he placed him among the seventy disciples. E. H.
lib. vii. c. 12.
That the Epistle of James was carly esteemed an inspired
writing, is evident from the following fact :--That while the
second Epistle of Peter, the second and third of Jobn, the Epis-
tle of Jude, and the Revelation, are omitted in the first Syriac
translation of the New Testament (the Peshito), which was
made in the beginning of the second century, for the use of the
converted Jews: tho Epistle of James has found a place in it,
equally with the books which were never called in question.
This is an argument of great weight, for certainly the Jewish
believers, to whom that Epistle was addressed and delivered,
were much better judges of its authenticity, than the converted
Gentiles, to whom it was pot sent; and who perhaps had no
opportunity of being acquainted with it, till long after it was
written. Wherefore, its being received by the Jewish be-
lievers, is an undeniable proof that they knew it to be written
by James the apostle; whereas the ignorance of the Gentile
ncorning this Epistle, is not even a presumption
against its anthenticity.
That the converted Gentiles had little knowledge of the
Epistle of James in the first ages, may have been owing to
various causes, such as that it was addressed to the Jows, and
that the matters contained in it were personal to the Jews.
For, on these accounts the Jewish believers may have thought
it not necessary to communicate it to the Gentiles : and when
WIY TIJS EPISTLE WAS NOT AT FIRST RECEIVED.
Julian Pe Christians, in their state of Dispersion, wishing them all Jerusalem.
VulgarÆra, it was made known to them, they may have scrupled to receive
it as an inspired writing, for the following reasons:-1. The
writer does not, in the inscription, tako the title of an apostle,
but calls himself simply James, a servant of God, and of the
Lord Jesus Christ. -2. Many of the ancients, by calling the
writer of this Epistle James the Just, have rendered his apostle-
ship doubtful.-3. As they have done likewise, by speaking of
him commonly as Bishop of Jerusalem, and not as an apostle of
Christ. It is not surprizing, therefore, that this Epistle was
not received generally by the converted Gentiles; consequently
that it was not often quoted by them in their writings. But
afterwards, when it was considered that this Epistle was from
the beginning received by the Jewish believers, and that it was
translated into the Syriac language for their use; and that St.
Paul, though an apostle, sometimes contented himself with the
appellation of a servant of Christ (Philip i. 1. Pbilem, ver. 1.)
and sometimes took no appellation but bis own name (1 Thess.
i. 1. 2 Thess. ii. 1.); and that the apostle John did not in any of
his Epistles, call himself an apostle, the title which the author
of the Epistle of James had to be an apostle, was no longer
doubted; but he was generally acknowledged to be James, the
son of Alpheus, and the Lord's brother, and his Epistle, after
an accurate examination, was received as an inspired writing.
So Estius tells us, who afirms, that after the fourth century no
Church nor ecclesiastical writer is found, who ever doubted of
the authority of this Epistle; but, on the contrary, all the cata-
logues of the books of Scripture published, whether by general
or provincial councils, or by Roman bishops, or other orthodox
writers, since the fourth century, constantly number it among
the canonical Scriptures.
With respect to what is remarked by Eusebius, that there
are not many ancient writers who have quoted the Epistle of
James, learned men have observed, that Clement of Rome has
quoted it four several times : and so does Ignatius, in his genu-
ine Epistle to the Ephesians (sect. x. xii. xvii. xxx.), and Ori.
gen, in his thirteenth homily on Genesis, sect. v. That it was
not better known is easily accounted for, as observed above,
from the circumstance of its being particularly addressed to the
whole Jewish nation, for the purpose of correcting the errors
and vices which prevailed among them at the time it was writ.
ten, On this account the Gentiles would feel tbemselves com-
paratively but little interested, and would therefore be less
anxious to obtain copies of it. The seeming opposition of the
doctrine of this Epistle to the doctrine of St. Paul, concerning
justification by faith, without the works of the law, may have
occasioned it also to have been less regarded by the most ancient
Michaelis is of a different opinion respecting the author of this Epistle. “ All things considered,” says he, “ I see no reason for the assertion, that James the son of Zebedee, was not the author of this Epistle. One circumstance affords, at least, a presumptive argument in favour of the opinion, that it was really written by the elder James, and at a time when the Gospel bad not been propagated among the Gentiles, namely, that it contains no exhortations to harmony between the Jewish and Gentile converts; which, after the time that the Gentiles were admitted into the Church, became absolutely necessary. Had it been written after the apostolic council of Jerusalem, men. tioned Acts v. and by the younger James, we might have expected that at least some allusion would be made in it to the decree