I’m going to kinda change tracks for this Philosophy Monday to discuss the Christian Bible. But, there is a serious connection, which I will end up talking about.
During my eight-year serious study of the Bible I read it from cover-to-cover three times. The Book of James ended up being my favorite mainly because of its emphasis on works, not faith alone was what Jesus taught. It said that “faith without works” is meaningless. But, the Letter of James was very likely not written by James.
Here is a quote from Wikipedia about that:
The Letter of James also, according to the majority of scholars who have carefully worked through its text in the past two centuries, is among the earliest of New Testament compositions. It contains no reference to the events in Jesus’ life, but it bears striking testimony to Jesus’ words. Jesus’ sayings are embedded in James’ exhortations in a form that is clearly not dependent on the written Gospels.
If written by James the brother of Jesus, it would have been written sometime before AD 69 (or AD 62), when he was martyred. The earliest extant manuscripts of James usually date to the mid-to-late 3rd century. The traditional author is held to be James, “a servant of God and brother of the Lord Jesus Christ”. Like Hebrews, James is not so much a letter as an exhortation; the style of the Greek language-text makes it unlikely that it was actually written by James, the brother of Jesus. Most scholars regard all the letters in this group as pseudonymous.
To finally get to how all this relates to Philosophy, we need to look at the underlying purpose of Theology and Philosophy
Theology is the study of the nature of God and religious belief.
Philosophy is, as I already pointed in this series, the study and love of wisdom and is unfettered by presumptions.
Philosophy does not have a system of belief as its foundation. It is about everything in our lives. For this reason, we are all philosophers to some degree, and we all subscribe to some kind of philosophy.
Theology in its purest form does not have mandated beliefs that are off-the-table. It, like philosophy, questions everything. In fact, most of the New Testament Bible was written by philosophers. The opening part of this post was about the Epistle of James and how it was likely written by a philosopher about 300 years after Jesus departed this earth. It has been discovered over the years, that much of the New Testament was written about that same period.
But, the study of theology has changed over the years, especially after the literalists came on the scene. Literalists believe that every word in the Bible is the word of God and is absolutely and literally true for all the ages. Of course, this is a direct affront to what theologians through the ages have generally believed.
Today’s version of theology has put a strangle-hold on the very idea of past theological practices. Philosophy puts everything on the table, and literalist theology takes almost every off the table.