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.

No comments: