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Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity

Ed. by Brennecke, Hanns Christof / Drecoll, Volker Henning / Heil, Uta / Markschies, Christoph

Together with Elm, Susanna / Gemeinhardt, Peter / Meier, Mischa / Perrone, Lorenzo / Pollmann, Karla / Riedweg, Christoph / Schöllgen, Georg / Williams, Rowan / Wischmeyer, Wolfgang

CiteScore 2018: 0.21

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.130
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.563

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Volume 20, Issue 3


Ancient Book Culture and the Literacy of James: On the Production and Consumption of a Pseudepigraphal Letter

Gregory P. Fewster
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  • University of Toronto, Study of Religion, Jackman Humanities Blg., Floor 3, 170 St George St, Toronto, Ontario M5R2M8, Canada
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Published Online: 2016-12-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zac-2016-0042


This article inquires into the implicit pseudepigraphal construction of James the brother of Jesus as highly literate in the canonical letter attributed to him. Traditional, form-based approaches to the letter genre are set aside in favour of appreciating the production and composition of (pseudepigraphal) letters within the context of Ancient Mediterranean book culture, particularly the association between scribal literate ability and social status. The pairing of James’ literary ability with the transmission of Jesus tradition is an image propagated in other early Christian literature, including the Apocryphon of James and the pseudo-Clementine Epistula Petri.

Keywords:: pseudepigraphy; genre; Letter of James; literacy; Jesus tradition

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Published Online: 2016-12-16

Published in Print: 2016-12-30

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity, Volume 20, Issue 3, Pages 387–417, ISSN (Online) 1612-961X, ISSN (Print) 0949-9571, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zac-2016-0042.

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