“The Tongue Is ​a Fire”: The Symbolic Language of James 3


James 3, Religious Studies, Biblical Studies, Religious Teachings


Though the scriptures contain the revealed word of God, they are not just containers of the word. They are revealers of it through the Holy Spirit. Thus one of the ways in which the scriptures unfold the Lord’s word is through literary qualities that are not on the page to make it more eloquent but to make it all the more meaningful. To study the literary qualities of the Bible does not require us to read it “in the same way that one would look at any other book” and treat it “as a product of the human mind.”[1] We can appreciate how our understanding of literary tools enhances how we receive the meaning of the Bible without discounting its inspired nature in the least. In fact, the writers of scripture often convey God-given doctrine through literary means. When we are willing to accept the text and the message as one, the words become richer and the meaning more powerful. If we apply this principle of scriptural scholarship to the third chapter of the Epistle of James, particularly as seen through the lens of the Restoration, we will find there is much more to what he had to say about how we can and must master our words.

Original Publication Citation

“‘The Tongue Is a Fire’: The Symbolic Language of James 3,” in Shedding Light on the New Testament: Acts-Revelation, editors Ray L. Huntington, Frank F. Judd, and David M. Whitchurch (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center), 2009.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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Religious Studies Center




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor