Epistle of James ends quite abruptly


Just a minor question here; the epistle of James seems to end in the mid of conversation. Is there a possibility that it is a portion of what is supposed to be a longer document or something? Just got curious after reading it.


Could you explain what you mean?


I’m saying that the letter is as if it was cut from a longer one. As I read it more and more, I feel like there were more that the author wanted to say; it doesn’t even have a proper ending unlike other letters, which is weird.


I mean, when you’re facing persecution, you don’t have a whole lotta time to spend on just one letter.


I never noticed that before. I just went through all the other epistles and you’re right, they all have some sort of closing at the end. Interesting!


Very interesting. I never noticed it before either, but now that you mention it, it’s really obvious. I did see in this commentary that the Epistle is said to have very few characteristics in common with a true letter (aside from greeting), so it may have been meant as an instruction? I have not seen any commentary at all in regards to the form of the ending.


Good observation. I never gave it any thought, but I think you’re right. Either the end is missing, which means it was either lost or intentionally removed. Or the document was never meant to be a letter and the letter-like opening is a later addition.


I looked up the textual variants for James and I am not tracking any major variants from Chapter 5. I would think that if there was a major textual variant at the end of James we would have textual evidence of it, so I suspect that was just his writing style. Keep in mind John makes statements such as “I have much to tell you but don’t want to use up the pen and paper (which were expensive commodities then).” You could have something similar to that here. He was also likely sending the letter with a courier who would read it and provide his greetings in person. His greeting is also relatively terse compared to Paul’s typical openings. That just may be how he communicated.


James is written by a different author so he might not have been interested in a formal farewell.

Or the letter was simply cut off and he didn’t complete what he wanted to say.


Thanks for all the replies! The commentary provided by @ahs was quite helpful. If there is no major variant of Chapter 5 as @Hodos mentioned, I guess there can be many possible interpretations. The thing about the authorship is quite interesting as well!


It’s just the style. James often abruptly ends topics.


This is what Douglas Moo says in his commentary (pp. 248-249):

James does not conclude his letter with greetings and benedictions typical of epistolary endings, but with a summons to action. This kind of ending is more typical of the more “formal” NT letters that read like published sermons; 1 John is an especially close parallel. James’s letter has been full of specific rebukes and commands. Indeed, as we pointed out in the Introduction, there are more imperative verbs per word in James than in any other NT book. So it is fitting that he would in the end turn to the community with an encouragement to intervene on behalf of fellow Christians who may be having difficulty with the spiritual matters that James has been discussing.



This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.