THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
There seems little doubt that this chapter is misplaced in “First Isaiah”; it belongs to “Second Isaiah’s” joyful songs about the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Exile. Since Lebanon (a mountain range), Carmel (an isolated mountain) and Sharon (a fertile plain) were all on the Mediterranean coast, I imagine the returning Jews skirted the deserts of Kedar by going west along the Euphrates valley, and then south along the coast before turning east toward Jerusalem.
In this sermon-like letter, the author counsels patience in waiting for the second coming of Christ. No Biblical scholar or commentator I know of attributes the letter to James the fisherman, one of the twelve apostles, for that James was executed by Herod Agrippa in the early years of the Church (Acts 12:1-2). For centuries the author was presumed to be James, the brother of Jesus, often called “James the Just,” the leader of the Jerusalem Church (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19; Acts, several references). Modern scholars tend to think the author is unknown, that he attributed the letter to James the Just as an honor to a great martyred leader. Such practices were common in the ancient Mediterranean world.
© Arthur H. Cash