Where does the quotation begin?

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Where does the quotation begin?

Post by dougknighton » March 1st, 2017, 3:54 pm

James 4:5–6

ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει.
Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν;
μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν.
Διὸ λέγει Ὁ θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν.

Is there any particular reason why the sentence beginning with Πρὸς φθόνον must be considered the beginning of a quotation?
Since no OT text contains these words, maybe we should wait until 4:6b’s Διὸ λέγει to look for the actual quotation. Thus 4:5b and 4:6a become a negative/positive argument for why one should pay attention to what the Scripture says: “Do you think that the Scripture speaks without effect? The spirit he has caused to dwell within us yearns with envy, but he gives a greater grace. Therefore it says: ‘God stands against the proud, but give grace to the humble’” (Proverbs 3:34).
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Robert Emil Berge
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Re: Where does the quotation begin?

Post by Robert Emil Berge » March 1st, 2017, 9:35 pm

I'm not at all an expert on NT qoutes from the OT, but a google search showed me that this passage is very difficult and much discussed. See this page here fore exaples of discussions:


When reading the passage myself, I tend to agree with you, that it gives sense that the actual quote begins at ὁ θεὸς... and what comes inbetween after the first λέγει is further qualification. I think the main problem with this is, according to one of the commentaries, that the phrase ἡ γραφὴ λέγει is followed directly by a quote in all other instances. Now, I don't think that is a reason to hold that James couldn't have made a different formulation in this case. But as I said, this is just my quite superficial opinion.
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S Walch
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Re: Where does the quotation begin?

Post by S Walch » March 2nd, 2017, 3:00 am

This is a rather good question. I don't see anything in the syntax/grammar that can answer either way, so I personally like the idea.

As for whether ἡ γραφὴ λέγει is followed directly by a quote - the exact wording in this order appears only three times in the NT - John 19:28; Rom 4:3, and here - and only in Rom 4:3 is it followed by a direct quote; in John 19:28, λέγει refers to Jesus, and not to ἡ γραφὴ.

Similar wording is used predominately by Paul/Pauline literature: λέγει ἡ γραφὴ - Rom 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; Gal 4:30; 1 Tim 5:18. Then we have one final instance in John 19:37, where γραφὴ λέγει introduces a direct quote.

So really only one author uses ἡ γραφὴ λέγει to introduce direct Scripture quotes - others are few and far between.

There is one final argument though for taking ἡ γραφὴ λέγει as introducing a direct quote here in James 4:5, and that's James 2:23:

καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα· Ἐπίστευσεν δὲ Ἀβραὰμ τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην, καὶ φίλος θεοῦ ἐκλήθη.

Nevertheless, this is still quite a different Scripture introduction, and uses wording more common in the NT (form of πληρόω with ἡ γραφὴ), being used 10 times. It also introduces an actual OT quote.

Edit: Forgot to mention, obviously the most common NT way of introducing an OT quote is to have γέγραπται (60+ times), and this is not used in James.
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