The letter of James in the formation of the New Testament Catholic epistle collection
This dissertation presents a reconstruction of the canonical formation of the New Testament Catholic Epistle collection. Following on similar studies of the origin of 2 Peter, it presents a new hypothesis regarding the provenance of the letter of James: the letter was written in the second century in the hopes that it might forge together a literarily coherent and theologically robust non-Pauline letter collection, a “Jerusalem Pillars” collection to balance the “Pauline”. This hypothesis, which originated out of assumptions derived from the final shape and contents of the collection itself, is first shown to be plausible on historical grounds, and then “proved” by an intertextual reading that demonstrates the redactional strategy of the second century author. Thus, chapter one offers an in-depth analysis of the formation of the Catholic Epistle collection, chapter two takes a closer look at the letter of James to establish a second century Sitz im Leben for the text, and chapter three focuses on an intertextual reading of the literary parallels between James, 1 Peter, 1 John, and the letters of Paul. Along the way, it provides a credible explanation for many of the obscurities surrounding the letter of James, namely, its late canonicity, its parallels with other apostolic letters, and its notorious lack of Christology, and further, it offers new insights into the historical formation of the New Testament canon.