James reflects both features of Hellenistic paraenesis and wisdom instruction, but its contents owe more to the latter. The work can be seen as a "countercultural" wisdom instruction containing various aphorisms, aiming to challenge the hearers' worldview and to reorient them to the values acceptable to God. The concern of perfection comes at the prologue and the epilogue, which forms the framework from which James is to be understood. The units 2:8-13, 3:13-18, and 4:11-12, which link the seemingly unrelated adjacent sections together, reflect similar arguments. The perfect law of liberty and the wisdom from above, and ultimately God the Lawgiver and the Judge, are the yardsticks by which one's speech and actions have to be measured and judged (1:19-25). The preeminent concern of our author is the importance of the perfect law with its fulfillment bringing about perfection, freeing one from the power of evil desire.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Cheung has mastered both the literature on James and that on the relevant Jewish and Hellenistic backgrounds. He has provided a creative new look at the problems of genre and structure that have plagued the study of James. His contribution is a welcome one, which we will be digesting for some time given the significance of his proposals and the extent of his evidence. This work will be required reading for any future scholar wishing to write on James. Hopefully it will lay to rest some of the misperceptions that have been foisted on James ever since Luther." --Peter H. Davids, The Vineyard Church, Stafford, Texas "There are emerging signs of a renewal of interest in James and in the place that this work occupies in our understanding both of early Christianity and of the traditions of Jesus. Yet scholars still find it difficult to describe a coherent argument for the work. Luke Cheung makes an important and original contribution to the appreciation of James by demonstrating the significant role attributed to the Shema in its argumentative structure. He relates the appeal to wholehearted commitment in the Shema to the call to perfection in James (in contrast to 'doubleness'), and in doing so also seeks to clarify the vexing relationship between Torah and wisdom in the work. Readers will find this a challenging and enlightening study packed with detail but revealing a helpful new approach to one of the New Testament's most difficult works." --Ronald A. Piper, University of St. Andrews
Luke Leuk Cheung Richard Bauckham
Luke L. Cheung holds the degrees of MDiv, MTh, and PhD. This book is a development of his doctoral thesis for which he studied at the University of St. Andrews. He is currently Associate Professor of New Testament Studies at the China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong.