Abstract

James 2:18–20 remains infamous for its textual and interpretive difficulties. This article proposes that our challenges result from replacing James’s inherent prosopopoeia with Augustine’s innovation of two different kinds of faith. The “types of faith” distinction, ubiquitous in modern commentaries, originated with Augustine’s use of Jas 2:19 to demonize Donatists as outside the faith community. Augustine’s polemical interpretation that ejected Donatists as false Christians was allowed by his deficient Vetus Latina (VL) text. I analyze these interpretations—dominating modern exegetical decisions—with their accompanying problems and suggest an alternative paradigm that ameliorates those perennial difficulties by remaining within the context of James’s faith community.

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