5 Interesting Facts about the Letter from James

Saint_James_the_JustThe letter from James is “a one-of-a-kind document”, according to scholar and commentator Scot McKnight, with “no real parallel among ancient letters, essays, and homilies.”

It is a letter that addresses numerous topics, many of which underlie the tensions behind the headlines today, including suffering, social justice, and poverty. It also contains some challenging passages related to the role of faith and works.

Here are 5 interesting facts as we start our study.

1) It was probably written by the brother of Jesus

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1)

Most scholars (at least those writing evangelical commentaries) agree that the author of this letter is James the brother of Jesus (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal 1:19), also known as James the Just. Another candidate is James, the son of Zebedee, the older brother of John, and an apostle in Jesus’ inner circle (Matt 17:1; Mark 5:37, 14:32-33). Many rule out the latter James, due to his early death at the hands of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2) around 44 CE. But that shouldn’t disqualify him. James the son of Zebedee would have been alive to write the letter if the earliest suggested dating of the letter is correct.

The primary reason for accepting James the Just as the author, over other possible candidates, is the tradition of the early church, which attributed the letter to him. Continue reading

Einstein: Know your History

I finished reading The Trouble with Physics by theoretical physicist Lee Smolin. In this book Smolin tackles the current state of physics and its lack of progress in solving the five fundamental questions.albert-einstein It was an interesting read, though if you are not someone who tackles popular works of science I would recommend Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe first.

Toward the end of the book, Smolin laments the inability of the scientific community to jump start another series of great discoveries, like those of the early twentieth century, to help move science forward toward finding the grand Theory of Everything (TOE). He attributes this to an academic system that rewards master craftsman who don’t challenge the current theories, while also failing to promote an environment for seers to flourish. Continue reading

Vulcan Theology: On seeing what we wish to see.

After reading the title, you might be thinking this post will have something to do with Spock. Maybe you are expecting some interesting twist on how this famous character might be related to some aspect of theology. Neither would be correct.Besides, as any reader of this blog would know, I am a huge Star Wars fan with only a passing knowledge of the Star Trek universe.

I have recently completed reading (actually listening to) The Hunt for Vulcan.  It was fascinating. The book, by Tom Levenson, covers the history, and to a lessor degree the science, that began with the publication of Newton’s Principia in 1687 and ends with Einstein delivering his lectures describing general relativity in 1915.

Spock_(Alt)_on_Vulcan.jpg

Spock spoke these words in “The Tholian Web” which aired in 1968

One of the primary characters in the book is the famous astronomer, Le Verrier, credited with discovering Neptune. He was able to accomplish this after noticing that the orbit of the planet Uranus was not following the path that Newton’s laws of gravity required. Analyzing various data and working through numerous calculations he proposed that the cause of the erratic orbit was another planet.

And he was right. Continue reading