The Problem of Jacoben Interlocuter

From: John Christopher DelHousaye (
Date: Tue Apr 27 1999 - 13:22:04 EDT

After probing the varinant readings of James 2:18, I have concluded that
the Majority Text preserves the best reading. I suggest that an early
copyist within the Alexandrian text-type introduced a corruption into James
2:18 by misunderstanding the length of the interlocuter's rebuttal (which I
believe extends to the end of v19). The Western text-type (OL) followed
suit, as evidenced by the Vulgate. The substitution of CWRIS for EK follows
this scenario, since CWRIS ties what was thought to be James' rebuttal to
his overall thesis that "faith without [CWRIS] works is dead" (2:6). James,
in effect, would be responding: "Your clame is not demonstrable!" But the
substitution did not resolve the ambiguity of how the interlocuter
disagreed with James. He should be saying: "you have works and I have
faith." The transposition (cf. the variant preserved by ff in Nestle-Aland
27th)reflects this difficulty, and is hence spurious to the original text.
     The truncation of the interlocuter's rebuttal explains the ommission
of SOU. The works are generalized to fit James' thesis. Faith is then also
generalized. However, these ommisions disrupt the otherwise parallelism in
the Majority Text (not also the chiasm):


     I am not a champion of the Majority Text. Nevertheless, it is the only
reading that makes sense of the text and seriously deals with the fact that
2:18 is an interlocution. I have submitted this brief sketch as an excerpt
from a more developed paper. Please e-mail me if you would like a complete
copy of the paper. Here, I am simply looking for some interaction with
those who have worked with this particularly thorny textual problem.

John DelHousaye (

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