Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 7th, 2016 by Joel Watts

James 1.27… and Sirach 4.10

English: introduction to Sirach, codex sinaiti...

English: introduction to Sirach, codex sinaiticus עברית: הקדמת הנכד לספר בן סירא, יוונית, מתוך “קודקס סינאיטיקוס” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In reading several commentaries, I keep seeing James 1.27 referred back to Isaiah 1.15-16. Admittedly, because I don’t have the time to search my entire library, I cannot tell you no one else has connected James 1.27 to Sirach 4.10. (Briefly looking at commentaries on Sirch, some have made allusions between the two.)

Read all of Sirach 4 here.

Sirach 4.10 reads,

Be like a father to orphans,
and take the place of a husband to widows.
Then God will call you his child,
and he will be merciful to you and deliver you from the pit.

James 1.27 reads,

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

You can easily see the connection. Not merely with the use of orphans and widows, but so too to the allusion of cleansing from sin.

Now, I’m not going to compare the rest of James 1 to Sirach 4, but you can.

This is important for several reasons. One, it informs James’s reception as part of the Wisdom tradition. This is really beyond doubt, in my opinion. Of course, in doing so, I am left to wonder how close a Jacobite Christology is to the Wisdom theology found in Sirach (Say, Sirach 24). Anyway, I would encourage you to read Sirach sometime.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

15 Responses to “James 1.27… and Sirach 4.10”
  1. Not surprising for the Epistle of Straw (as the qualifier used by Luther just to maintain a certain decorum, unlike in his other rantings), written by an unidentified ebionite Jew…

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