The Book of Jacob?!
By Gary Amirault
I don't know about you, but I like surprises: nice surprises, or something that brings light to my eyes, a smile to my mouth, or a leap to my feet.
I find as I study the Bible using good reference tools, I come up with all kinds of "stuff" that makes me shout "wow." (As you can tell by my wording, I've reverted to being a child, a child of a king privileged enough to look into some of His matters. It's great to look at the world from this place.)
Sometime back, I noticed as I played around in the Greek New Testament, (I'm not a Greek scholar by the way) that the book of James was missing in the Greek. James was called "Jacobus" which is the Greek form of the Hebrew "Iacob" which should come into the English as "Jacob." In the Old Testament "Iacob" was translated "Jacob." The question arose in my mind. Why didn't the translators stay consistent and translate "Iacobus" as "Jacob." How did this word "James" get into the Bible?
At the time I started this fun little dig, I looked up the word "James" and discovered it came from a French word "Jamnes" which seemed to refer to the leg. The Biblical story of Jacob grabbing Esau's "heel" or "leg" may have been the connection to "Jamnes." My little French-English dictionary has an entry for "jambe" which means leg or shank.
The Oxford English dictionary seems to trace James through the Spanish "Jaime." James the Greater was the patron saint of Spain. In the Spanish, the closest meaning I could get to the meaning connected with Jacob was "jamon" which meant "ham, or leg of ham." (The "leg" part is what I am referring to, not the ham.)
Few of us realize the English language is primarily German which has been modified by Latin, Danish, and French.
In the thirteenth century, the Normans of France gained control of the English government. At that time, according to a wonderful little book I purchased entitled The Handbook of the English Tongue printed in 1862, "English boys were taught French in grammar schools and had to construe their Latin into French. Members of universities were ordered to converse in Latin or French. Proceedings of parliament and the minutes of the corporation of London were recorded in French. And of all the authorities who wrote in the three centuries following the Norman Conquest, nearly all use the French language" (Handbook of the English Tongue, Joseph Angus, 1862, Page 51) Most of the populace did not switch over to the degree the aristocracy did.
At this point in time, I haven't completely discovered when Jacob, the heel grabber, the one who trips people up through his natural wisdom, became James, referring to the time when his strength left him and he was forced to lean on Yahweh. I know that the Roman Catholic Vulgate has as the title for the book of James Beati Jacobi Apostoli. Clearly, here Jacob has not become James. I am not a Latin scholar, but if apostoli means "apostle," then the Vulgate seems to have added this to the Greek text because I don't think it is there. It is just amazing how church tradition gets added to Bibles, including Protestant ones. The Geneva Bible has Iames, the "J" not coming into English until later.
I still have to play with this some more. Unfortunately, I don't have in my library enough of the older English translations prior to the King James Version. I called one of the leading seminary libraries in the country prior to publishing this edition of Dew and they couldn't nail it down for me. Perhaps by the next Dew someone will find the time period where Jacob became James.
I think there is something interesting in all of this. Just let me amuse you for a moment. If you don't see what I am talking about, that's OK. Let's stay friends, all right?
Martin Luther, who translated the Bible into German, called the book of James a "right strawy epistle." He hated the book and wanted it out of the Bible. Martin Luther was a strong proponent of salvation by "faith alone." As a matter of fact he added that word "alone" into his Bible even though the Greek text did not contain the word.
James seemed to teach a combination of grace and works. (James Chapter 2) There is disagreement among Protestant churches as to just what James taught. I used to teach that he taught that we were saved by grace which would produce the works God gave us to do. In other words faith would bring forth the works given us from before the foundations of the world. I no longer believe that. I think he mixed law and grace together. Paul constantly mentions church leaders who were destroying his work by a mixture of Mosaic law and grace. Galatians is full of exhortations to stay away from this kind of teaching. James, I believe, is an example of this kind of teaching, which Paul says that those who teach this kind of heresy should castrate themselves.
The Jerusalem church, which preached a "gospel of the circumcision" never came into the pure message of Paul. It reverted back to the Mosaic Law. If God did not destroy the Temple, the Priesthood, and the genealogical records in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70AD, the Jameses of the church would have destroyed Paul's gospel and we would not have known what he preached. God vindicated the "gospel of the uncircumcision" in the overthrow of those who still had confidence in the Temple and its rituals. I can't go into depth on this subject in this short article. Write for the audio tapes Two Gospels, Saved to the Uttermost, and the four tape series, The Rapture of 70AD for an in-depth discussion of this topic.
For now, I believe Jacob the "heal grabber," in my own paraphrase the "tripper upper," is still tripping people up.
God, is His wisdom allowed James' book a place in the Bible so that we could look into this mixture of law and grace which Paul was constantly fighting. A mixture of law and grace will always wipe out grace. He who tries to keep part of the law is doomed to keeping all of it because the Mosaic Law was an all or nothing package. The Book of James is a mild example of the kind of preaching the "Gospel of the Circumcision" was all about. It was to end at the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Levitical Priesthood in 70AD. But Satan picked up this discarded gospel which mixes law and grace and has injected it into most of the church. It was only supposed to be a transitory gospel to aid the Jew born under the Mosaic Law to enter into the New Covenant of Grace. When that generation died, this gospel was to end. (Further explanation of this can be found on our audio tapes Two Gospels and Which laws to keep.)
There is not a church in my town which truly teaches Paul's gospel. They all mix law and grace. You see, Jacob, the "tripper upper" who is disguised as James, is still tripping people up. If his name had been brought into the English Bible correctly as "Jacob," the "conniver, the heal grabber, the one who used deception to his gain instead of leaning on God," then we might not have been so quick to abandon Paul's Gospel for James' gospel, which according to Paul, is really no gospel at all.
Perhaps, in His wisdom, the fact that there are 66 books in the Bible tells us something about things. There is a Bible project underway right now which will have 49 books instead of the 66. Oh, children of the Most High! We live in such wonderful times, if only we would rise up and be seated where He has placed us. But James will not let us come to that place. He still worships in Jerusalem, and so do all those who have not discerned the difference between the "gospel of the uncircumcision" and the "gospel of the circumcision."
One more quick point: How is it that James, the brother of Jesus, came to be head of the Jerusalem church? Jesus, gave Peter the keys and the apostleship of the circumcision. I believe the church of the circumcision reverted back to what always happens in fleshly-centered governments. They start dynasties, royal families, lineages. And that is why James "supplanted" Peter in this position. They reverted back to earthly bloodline lineages again. A mixture of law and grace will always revert back to just law. We do not know whether the writer of the book of James was the brother of Jesus or another James, but the principle is there just the same.
The church of today is very much made up of the "Jacob" nature. It has not had its "Peniel," which means "facing El." The church is still facing Moses whose glory has long faded.
Incidently, "Jude," is another one of those slightly "twisted" words in the Bible. It should really read "Judas." My, my, how we want to hide things don't we? Well, our Father is just too smart for us. All that is hidden will come to light? Remember?