(Ran my 1.7, said my prayers, went to a local café with Margaret to work on our various projects.)
A day that felt as if it might never come, I submitted my final post-reviewers, post-reviewers’ response to revisions, now on its way for proofing essay on the Epistle of James and miracles. I started it as a bit of a lark — ‘What’s miracles to James, or James to miracles?’ — but gradually, then suddenly, vistas of intricacies opened up before my inquiries. Now, to be fair, practically everything looks more intricate under a microscope. Once one begins analysing a discourse, an image, a musical composition, a recipe, a gesture, then the range of possible dimensions to it expands vertiginously. Anyone whose love has been unrequited, or perhaps more to the point ambiguously requited, knows that a casual word, inflection, smile, absence/presence, anything can indicate a multitude of possible degrees of the Other’s affection.
At the same time, James — as is the case for everything in the Bible — is blunted with community, so familiar in our Bibles between Hebrews and 1 Peter that one can hardly perceive any subtleties to the latter at all. Revisiting James after a few years (the commentary on James’s Greek was published in 2015), I was captivated by the nuances of the topic, in the context of early church offices, James’s Stoicism (or lack thereof), his odd invocation of Elijah (Elijah allegedly raised a boy from death, but James mentions him as someone just like us, whose prayers were answered), and various other aspects of the question.
And the best answer I can make to all of those facets of what James thought about miracles is, ‘Probably what most other thoughtful Jewish observers in the first century thought’, which isn’t very dramatic — but it’s the most plausible construal of the evidence, as far as I can tell.