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Letters and CommunitiesStudies in the Socio-Political Dimensions of Ancient Epistolography$
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Paola Ceccarelli, Lutz Doering, Thorsten Fögen, and Ingo Gildenhard

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198804208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198804208.001.0001

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The Communities Configured in the Letter of James

The Communities Configured in the Letter of James

(p.303) 12 The Communities Configured in the Letter of James
Letters and Communities

Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr

Oxford University Press

The chapter explores how the Letter of James configures communities, distinguishing between the real (or historical) readers, the implied readers, and the letter’s reception history. During late antiquity and the Middle Ages the letter was perceived as a foundational instruction from James, the brother of the Lord, one of the leading figures of the Jerusalem church. At the level of the implied readers, the text makes use of the genre of Diaspora letter, which allows for the creation of a sense of common values and shared faith with the addressees. Finally, at the level of historical communities, the Letter of James appears to address a community of Jewish origins searching for a specifically ‘Christian’ identity in the midst of a dominant Mediterranean culture.

Keywords:   Letter of James, reception history, implied author, implied readers, Diaspora letter, Jerusalem church, early Christianity

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