Granted that word-for-word matching isn’t the cardinal characteristic of good translation, wouldn’t it be fair to translate dipsychos as “half-hearted”? It gets at the sense of divided sentiments better in colloquial English than does “double-minded,” which sounds more like multiple personality disorder to me.
Pascale suggests, “of two minds”; that gets at the sense of the expression, but it sounds cumbersome to me in the context of the Epistle of James.
I wholeheartedly empathize with your quandary on what to do with dipsychos. While taking an exegesis class on James (under the supervision of Dr. Bill Baker), we as a class wrestled with how to nuance this seemingly un-nuanceable term. Since then, however, I have spent a fair amount of time bathing myself with the wisdom literature of the ANE. I did this because of the commonly accepted association between James and wisdom writings. As a result of that, I found that it might be best to see dipsychos within a wisdom context. This approach seems beneficial, to me, because of where the term emerges in James: the contrast is being made between those who truly seek wisdom (1.5-6b) and those who do not (1.6c-7).
The notion of a “double” mind is right at home in wisdom literature–without conjuring up psychological chaos. For one to be of “one” mind is to be in harmony with the created order, which is already understood to have a non-chaotic ontology. Thus, the individual who is of one mind could be seen as a microcosm of the harmonious universe. Therefore, for one to be “double-minded” is to be not only out of synch with oneself; it is also to be out of synch with the entire created order. As a result of this, the individual is thereby unable to operate (effectively and consistently) in a manner that is in keeping with how things should be; for they are constantly at war, again, not only with themselves but also with the cosmos–or the creator of both. (This internal division may also play into the Jewish notion of the yezer hara [S. Schechter; P. Davids]).
These are just some of my random thoughts on the subject–take them for what they’re worth. 🙂 I hope they make some sense. If not, please do not hesitate to ask. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
-Carl S. Sweatman
MA–NT Research Student
Cincinnati Bible Seminary
Graduate Assistant to Dr. Tom Thatcher
[My hesitation with “double-minded” involves whether that expression most effectively communicates dipsychos to a casual listener, one who probably would never say “double-minded” if not reading a Bible translation aloud. We who read the Greek are liable to register too literal a transition from the Greek that we see to a English equivalents, where “half-hearted” immediately signals an attitude where ostensive commitment is undermined by another, different allegiance. Or that’s how it seems to me.]