The Letter of James has been greatly underestimated. Some have regarded it as no more than a random set of wisdom sayings with minimal theology. Many have dismissed it as too late a writing to be interesting for the beginnings of Christianity. In this Guide Margaret Aymer sets out to counter such assessments. The key focus of the letter of James, a homily in form, is its impassioned argument for living 'unstained by the world' in the Diaspora. Against the charge that James is theologically weak, Aymer focuses on its theology of God's divine singularity and im¬mutability, and of God's relationship to the community as father and benefactor. These are theological foundations for its emphasis on praxis, that is, community actions of be¬lief, humility and mutual care. James's community does not live in a utopia. The letter of James takes its stand against empire, not least in regard to wealth, though it is in alignment with empire over matters of gender and power. Divine power is envisioned as an al¬ternative power to that of the Romans, though in some re¬spects it can seem equally brutal. Aymer concludes by focusing on those addressed by James's homily, the exiles in diaspora. Engaging the psychology of migration, she unpacks the migrant strategy underlying James's call to living 'unstained'. But that leads into a fur¬ther issue that arises once James becomes part of a scrip¬ture. What might it now mean, she asks, for twenty-first century people to take seriously a separatist migrant dis¬course not only as an interesting ancient writing but as a scripture, a lens through which its readers can glimpse the possibilities for how lives are to be lived, and how contem¬porary worlds can be interpreted and engaged?
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