Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 4)

Here's my fourth post on M. Taylor's, A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. The next few posts will probably concentrate on Taylor's sixth (and final) chapter on the structure of James. Since this is probably the most important (and detailed) chapter in the book, I'll probably do one post for every chapter in the actual letter of James. Here is a summary of Taylor's analysis of James 1.

* Taylor begins his discussion of James 1 by noting that most scholars now see this chapter as a summation of central ideas and themes that will be discussed in the remainder of the letter (i.e., an introduction)
* Taylor suggests that the author develops James 1 as an introduction by:
i. the creation of a double inclusion at 1:2–4 and 1:12, 25 through the notion of being blessed when one endures trials (100)
ii. parallels between James 1 and James 2:1–13 (see above)
iii. the clustering of third-person imperatives in James 1:4–19 and James 5:12–20 (such verb forms occur only elsewhere at James 3:13 and 4:9)
iv. the transitional nature of James 1:26–27, which serves something of a foundational role for the remaining instruction
* Regarding the actual structure of James 1, Taylor places great stress on the 'double inclusion' he discerns at 1:2-4, 12 and 1:12, 25. On the basis of this 'double inclusion', Taylor argues that 1:13-27 is "a balanced literary unit in close relationship to 1.2-12" (104). Taylor also argues that the repeated references to deception (1:16, 22, 26) should play an important role in this discussion.
* Taylor proposes the following parallel arrangement of James 1:2-27:
i. 1:2–4 =The Spiritual Benefit of Trials// 1:13–15 =Don’t Be Deceived Regarding Temptation
ii. 1:5–8 =The Need for Righteous Wisdom// 1:16–25 =Don’t Be Deceived Regarding Righteous Wisdom
iii. 1:9–11 =Wise Attitudes for Rich and Poor// 1:26–27 =Don’t Be Deceived Regarding Religious Practice.

A few comments are certainly in order. First, I find Taylor's discussion of the relationship between James 1 and the remainder of the letter extremely helpful. This is especially true of his suggestions regarding the use of imperatives in James 1 and 5, as well as the central role of James 1:26-27. I also think his summary descriptions of the individual sections of James 1 generally represent the author's thought. However, I'm not entirely convinced that James 1:16-25 should be read together (Taylor himself notes the presence of several major breaks at 1:18-19 and 1:20-21; these observations are probably pertinent at this point).
Finally, while I'm open to the presence of a 'double inclusion' in James 1 (Taylor seems to suggest that to "persevere" in v. 25 parallels "remaining steadfast under trial" in v. 12; note also the repetition of the adjective "blessed" in v. 25), at this point I'm only comfortable stating that the presence of this inclusion need not require one interpret James 1:2-12 and James 1:13-27 in parallel fashion, as Taylor does. The key factor would be the internal data and if James 1:16-25 should be broken into two or three individual sections (as I suggest above), the internal data would not seem to allow for this parallel arrangement. Nonetheless, Taylor's analysis seems quite thorough and his proposal very intriguing. More study on this point is certainly needed.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Helpful Ancient Hebrew Web-Site

For those of you like me who need a user friendly, interactive, and most importantly, free online ancient Hebrew tutor, check out this web-site: link

I haven't looked at this site extensively but so far it seems really helpful. The notes and exercises are based on Page Kelley's, Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar. I have no idea how this text compares to other recent ancient Hebrew grammars, but as far as I'm concerned, anything has to be better than Weingreen:-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Great News!

After many months of waiting, it looks like I will be enrolling this Fall in the PhD program at the University of Aberdeen. This thankfully ends a rather long and wearisome time for my wife and me. This is also the initial fulfillment of a dream that I have had for quite some time. Praise the Lord, it also means I won't have to work as a security guard for the rest of my life :-)

Regarding my research topic, for now I will say that it will probably involve the "new creation" theme in Ephesians. More on this to come, I suppose.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 3)

Here's my third post on M. Taylor's, A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. This post is basically a summary of the remainder of Taylor's analysis of the relationship between the major sections in James. Given the detailed nature of this part of Taylor's study, I've tried to trace his general argument and concentrate on highlighting how Taylor sees the author linking the various units of thought.

* Relationships Between Discourse Units in James

* Suggests that James 1:26–27 plays an important role in the development of James 2:1–13
i. the poor man is welcomed with inappropriate speech
ii. note the lack of mercy shown to the poor man
iii. the external standard of judgment described in James 2:1–13 exhibits the worldly influence warned against in James 1:27
* Suggests that James 2:14–26 is loosely connected to James 1:22–25 through the use of key-words such as “doer,” “work,” “faith,” and words in the tel- word group. Taylor also suggests that James 2:14–26 is closely related to James 2:1–13 through the use of various parallels (eg. “My brothers . . . faith” – 2:1, 14; kalws poieite, 2:8// kalws poieis, 2:19) (92)
* Suggests James 3:1–12 is linked to James 1 through their identical opening address (“my brothers”), key-words (eg. teleios, dunatos), and similar descriptions of the tongue (cf. 1:13–14, 26–27; 3:6, 8). Taylor also suggests James 3:1–12 is linked to James 2:1–13 and 2:14–26 in various ways, including their similar opening addresses, use of words in the tel– word group (cf. 2:22; 3:2); references to stumbling (cf. 2:10; 3:2)
* Regarding James 3:13–18, Taylor suggests that it is best viewed as a transitional section (as is James 4:11–12). He thus places a break in topic at 4:1 and describes this as the “emotional climax” of the entire composition (93)
* Regarding the relationship between James 4:1–10 and James 1, Taylor notes that the problems and vices described in 4:1–10 build upon “the author’s discussion of temptation, lust and the ultimate outcome of death described in 1.14–15 and the issue of proper vs. improper ‘asking’ raised in 1.5–7” (93–94). Taylor also notes that the term dipsuchoi occurs in 1:8 and 4:8. Finally, Taylor proposes that several key-words link James 4:1–10 with 3:1–18 (melesin – 3:6, 4:1; kakws/ kakos – 3:8, 4:3; meizon/ meizona – 3:1, 4:6)
* Taylor suggests that James 4:13–5:6 is linked to James 1 by means of their common warning regarding improper speech (1:13, 19, 26; 4:13–16). Taylor also suggests these texts are linked by the contrast between the promised “crown of life” in 1:12 and the author’s description of the precariousness of life in 4:14. Taylor admits that this is a tenuous connection but argues that “there may be intentional thematic ties with 1.9–11 and the emphasis upon the future destiny of the ‘rich’ who will pass away in their pursuits” (94–95). He also suggests these texts are linked by means of key-words (eg. hamartia – 1:15, 4:17; kauchasthw/ kauchasthe – 1:9, 4:16). Regarding the relationship between James 4:13–5:6, Taylor notes that both address conceited attitudes (esp. 4:6, 13–16). Taylor again notes that various key-words establish a link between James 4:13–5:6 and James 4:1–10 (kardias – 4:8, 5:5; phoneuw/ ephoneusate – 4:2, 5:6). Taylor also notes the presence of an inclusion at 4:6 and 5:6. Finally, he notes the presence of distant hook words at 4:9 and 5:1
i. palaipwrhsate / klausate (4:9)
ii. klausate / palaipwriais (5:1)
* Taylor suggests James 5:7–20 is linked to James 1 by means of the “endurance” motif (cf. 1:3, 4, 12; 5: 7, 11). He also notes the conceptual similarity between the “prayer of faith” in 5:15 and the “asking in faith” in 1:6. Taylor also proposes that “the concern for recapturing the brother who has wandered from the truth appropriately ends the letter and indicates what the author has been attempting to do for the readers throughout the composition” (96). He then suggests that James 5:19–20 and 1:16–21 are linked through such key-words as planaw, alhtheia, thanatos, and hamartia.