James 1:19

New Testament

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. 20 For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. 23 For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does. 26 If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.

Pirkei Avot 1:15


15 Shammai used to say: make your [study of the] Torah a fixed practice; speak little, but do much; and receive all men with a pleasant countenance. 16 Rabban Gamaliel used to say: appoint for thyself a teacher, avoid doubt, and do not make a habit of tithing by guesswork. 17 Shimon, his son, used to say: all my days I grew up among the sages, and I have found nothing better for a person than silence. Study is not the most important thing, but actions; whoever indulges in too many words brings about sin.

 Notes and References

"... We cannot be sure from which of the earlier wisdom sayings James has acquired the insights he expresses in the first half of the verse, but it is clear he has formulated a new aphorism of his own. His aphorism succinctly combines the advice previously expressed less concisely and never in a single aphorism. Moreover, his aphorism, despite the remarkable conciseness of its first part, achieves a more precise meaning, by associating rash speech with impetuous anger, the two topics which are the subject of distinct aphorisms in previous wisdom. The motive clause in the second half of the verse (which was most probably formulated originally as an independent aphorism) then gives a reason for the advice without precedent in the tradition. This is a fine example of the way the sage, making the wisdom of the tradition his own, expresses it in an apt proverb of his own formulation, not only transmitting but adding to the wisdom of the tradition ... Compare also Mishnah Avot 1:15 (‘say little and do much’: attributed to Shammai); 2:10 (‘be not easily provoked’: attributed to R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus); 5.12 (‘quick to hear and slow to forget’); 4Q420 1:2:1–3 (‘He will not answer before he hears, and he will not speak before he understands, and with patience he will give a reply’); Job 11:2–3 LXX (‘The one who speaks much should also hear much ... Do not be profuse in speech’), quoted in 1 Clement 30:4–5 ..."

Bauckham, Richard James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage (pp. 83-84) Routledge, 1999

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