James 1:25

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 6:2


2 Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said: every day a bat kol (a heavenly voice) goes forth from Mount Horeb and makes proclamation and says: “Woe unto humankind for their contempt towards the Torah”, for whoever does not occupy himself with the study of Torah is called, nazuf (the rebuked. As it is said, “Like a gold ring in the snout of a pig is a beautiful woman bereft of sense” (Proverbs 11:22). And it says, “And the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tablets” (Exodus 32:16). Read not haruth [‘graven’] but heruth [ ‘freedom’]. For there is no free man but one that occupies himself with the study of the Torah. And whoever regularly occupies himself with the study of the Torah he is surely exalted, as it is said, “And from Mattanah to Nahaliel; and Nahaliel to Bamoth” (Numbers 21:19).

 Notes and References

"... The presentation of the Torah as the law of freedom is arguably the most conspicuous motif in the first part of the epistle (James 1:25; 2:12) ... This passage can be seen as one of the key corroborations of the Jewish tradition’s internalization of the concept of freedom, as reconstructed by Shlomo Pines. According to his analysis, the notion of freedom as a supreme religious value was foreign to ancient biblical tradition, and it took hold in Jewish thought only later—namely, under the influence of Greco–Roman culture ... Another rabbinic tradition, found in the last chapter of tractate Avot (generally considered to be a later addition), strives to provide this idea with a proper midrashic backing (m. Avot 6:2) ..."

Ruzer, Serge The Epistle of James as a Witness to Broader Patterns of Jewish Exegetical Discourse (pp. 69-98) Journal of The Jesus Movement in Its Jewish Setting No. 1, 2014

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