Re: MONON in James 2:24

From: Glen Riddle (
Date: Sat Sep 13 1997 - 17:07:19 EDT wrote:
> A colleague is working on a paper involving James 2:24 and has a question
> about whether the adverb MONON modifies PISTEWS, as most interpreters
> suggest, or an implied DIKAIOUTAI from the first part of the verse. Many of
> the Greek grammars covering the NT postulate a limited adjectival use of
> MONON and thus allow it to modify PISTEWS. However, the other passages
> suggested for an adjectival use of MONON all appear to be somewhat ambiguous
> in that they could easily be understand that MONON is functioning in its more
> normal adverbial sense. Are there clear instances of MONON used adjectivally
> in either the NT or elsewhere in Greek literature?
> Bill Combs
> Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

I was glad to see Carl reject the adjectival use of MONON. It has long
been one of the faults in translations of James that MONON is taken
adjectivally. I believe it is done so for theological reasons--not
grammatical reasons.
If one assumes James is comparing real, saving faith to dead, non-saving
faith, then it makes perfect theological sense to try to make MONON
adjectival. James is then saving 1 + 2 = justification. In other words,
faith plus works = justification.
However, if James accepts his readers as those already justified before
God, and his purpose in writing is to strengthen them in their faith
such that they will stand in times of testing and trial---then it makes
perfectly good sense, theologically and grammatically, to understand
James to be writing primarily about how they can be justified before
their fellow man. J.N. Darby brought out such an adverbial usage of
MONON in his trans.: "Ye see that a man is justified on the principle of
works, and not on the principle of faith only". Now we're dealing with
two kinds of justification, not two kinds of faith (saving vs.
non-saving). And the equation now becomes: a leads to b; c leads to d.
There is a justification by works that is a justification before man
(Paul admits such in Rom. 4.2--first class condition); there is another
justification by faith that is a justification before God (Paul also
admits to this in Rom. 4.3).
By taking the MONON adverbially, the grammatical integrity is
maintained. By the way, there is much, much more in James that supports
such a theological argument for the epistle.

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