Verbum et Ecclesia
On-line version ISSN 2074-7705
Print version ISSN 1609-9982
VAN DER MERWE, Dirk G.. The impact of the economic system on social and labour relations in the early church as revealed in the letter of James. Verbum Eccles. (Online) [online]. 2012, vol.33, n.1, pp.1-12. ISSN 2074-7705. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/ve.v33i1.691.
The Letter of James addresses the dichotomy between the socioeconomic classes of the rich (πλούσιος) and the poor (πτωχὸς). This research reveals the social and labour relations resulting from this dichotomy and the wealth of socioeconomic data contained in this letter. The rich are alerted to the consequences of their unrighteousness towards the poor, and the poor receive exhortations of encouragement. The metaphoric use of 'richness' is also examined. This research focuses on the socioeconomic activities and attitudes that this dichotomy prompted during the second part of the first century, and it indicates how the economic system impacted on and influenced the lives of the early Christians in the 1st century Mediterranean world. James bounces these questions around to cast the rich, as well as the Christian assembly, in a bad light for condoning the mistreatment of the poor. His three rhetorical questions are quite to the point and are meant to be answered affirmatively.