Course Syllabus
last revised: 3/30/03
LIR Courses James Course Room Online Study Guide Click on icon for explanation.

How the LIR courses work.
        Here is the description by Danny West, director of the Center for Congregational Enrichment, regarding the courses offered by the Lay Institute of Religion: "For the laity, the Center's Lay Institute of Religion offers classes specially designed for laypersons which include courses in the Bible, theology, teacher training, deacon ministry, and church leadership, as well as courses in spirituality and health/wellness."
       The studies are intended to be inspiring and informative in a relaxed atmosphere. Thus no exams or tests are a part of the six week study.

How the study is structured.
        Because of my prior experience as a professor and a pastor, especially having taught dozens of the SBC 'January Bible Studies' over the past 40 years of ministry, I have attempted to design the course along the lines for a serious Bible student who wants to learn more about what the Bible is attempting to say to our world today. No background knowledge of the Biblical languages is assumed, nor much prior understanding of scripture itself. The course represents a greatly simplified application of the principles of historical-literary interpretation of scripture. My somewhat extensive background in computer programing and web design have been brought to bear in the creation of the course on the internet as a part of the extensive web site. This LIR James study is also integrated into a previous Winter Bible Study section on James that has been used in churches for a weekend study of James. References to aspects of this will show up in the study guide in some of the lessons.
        The Course Room for the study is designed to make navigation from one part of the study to another very easy.



Bulletin Board

 The Study of James
Study Guide Lessons
Lorin L. Cranford
Office Hours

NT Study Aids


At the top of your computer screen you will see this header. It is your guide to the various aspects of the study. The GRAY blocks on either side of the course title contain hyperlinks to various topics. Access to any of these is achieved by placing your cursor over the desired hyperlink and then clicking on the left button of your computer mouse. The three on the left side are directly related to the study itself:
Syllabus. This contains the material that you're presently reading -- an explanation of the study.

Schedule. This page lists the schedule of study and contains hyperlinks to the Study Guide and to Translation Texts for the book of James. If you prefer to go directly to a particular lesson, then click on the Study Guide Lessons hyperlink in the center box.

Bulletin Board. This page contains news etc. about the course. It is the main way I stay in contact with class members outside of the class room. Any variation from the schedule of study will be posted here, along with other announcements that need to be communicated prior to a given class period. You will want to check this page the day before the class period for any updates that have been posted.

The links in the gray box on the right side of the title section are less directly related to details of the course but contain links to helpful information.
Office Hours. Although unlikely that you will need to set up a conference with my in the GWU office, it is possible to do so by clicking on this link. Once there, then proceed to the appropriate semester. Inside the schedule listing you will see a hyperlink Conference Time. By merely clicking on the desired time you can set up an appointment with me using the internet. Once you click on the Conference Time, an online Conference Request form will appear on your screen. Just fill out this form and then click on the Submit Form button at the bottom of the page. The request comes automatically to me at my office at home. I process these daily and you will receive a confirmation email that a conference has been scheduled in the GWU office, Lindsay Hall room 232.

NT Study Aids. This hyperlink will take you to a page containing links to quite a number of supplementary materials related to the study of the New Testament. The section more closely related to our study is The Catholic Epistles; this is where materials related to James are located.

Bibliography. This link will take you to a project that was begun on in 2002, the creation of a massive bibliographic database for the study of the New Testament. As of the spring of 2003, over two thousand entries have been posted with a goal of eventually having over ten thousand listing of books and articles for the study of the Bible. For the listings on James thus far, go Bible Commentaries, then to Individual Commentaries and Articles, and finally to James.

How to use the online study guide.
        The online study guide is intended to provide two items: (1) an organizational structure for the classroom activities through the teaching of the course while using the internet, and (2) a background study providing the learner with a road map for interpreting the book of James by the use of contemporary, well established methods of Bible interpretation. The Bible student can use this material either in an independent personal study or as background preparation for the class activities. I would suggest the following as the best way to use the Study Guide:
1. Save a copy of each lesson along with the graphic files into a subfolder of your My Documents folder on your computer hard drive.
You can do this while using your web browser by clicking on the File menu in the upper left hand corner of your screen. You will see a Save As command on the popup menu list. Click this on and most likely your computer will automatically open the My Documents folder. If note, use the Browse button to find this folder. You can create a New Folder by clicking on the folder icon with the red star at the top of the menu list in the popup screen. Name this new folder, James Study, then using your mouse curser click it on in order to open it. Once it is opened, then click on the Save button at the bottom of the popup screen. This will save the html file into this folder. Repeat these steps for each lesson.

2. If you want to write out answers to the Exegesis questions for each lesson electronically, then bring up the desired lesson in your My Documents folder inside your word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Word Perfect. Most every current version of these software packages has the ability to read html formatted files. Once the file is loaded inside your word processor, you can insert your answers under the questions as you would normally type in materials inside a document file. Once you have finished working on a lesson, BE SURE to click on SAVE before exiting the html document. Otherwise, your work will not be preserved inside the document.

3. If you just want to use a printed copy of each lesson for note taking etc., then click on the Print command in the menu line at the top of the screen. This will activate a print command.

        The earlier form of this guide first appeared in the late 1980s in print form as A Study Manual on the Epistle of James: English Text, Fort Worth: Scripta Publishing, Inc., 1987. It was followed up with the companion volume A Study Manual on the Epistle of James: Greek Text, Fort Worth: Scripta Publishing, Inc., 1988, rev. ed. 1991.
        These publications, along with some published theological journal articles written in English in the US and in German in Germany, represent a concentrated effort to understand this NT document over the past forty plus years of a professional career.
        The online study guide version represents a very simplified version of these previous publications as well as an updating of the study of the text of James. The layout of each lesson is as follows:
Lesson #=====The Letter of James=====James #:#
Last revised: 3/6/03
Go directly to:
Scripture Passage
To display any Greek and/or Hebrew text contained in this page, download and install the free BSTGreek/Hebrew True Type fonts from Bible Study Tools.
Some hyperlinked files are in the Adobe Acrobat PDF format. They can only be viewed by using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader available at 

As can be detected from the above heading that appears in each of the Lessons, the study guide is broken up into five segments. A bit of explanation of each of these segments is in order. For an explanation of each of these segments click on the desired hyperlink above, or, scroll down the page. A hyperlink to Lesson 02 will be included for quick illustration of each item under the explanation of each of these sections.

Scripture Passage. This section begins with a copy of the Greek text of the pericope being covered by an individual lesson. While most will not make use of this, it serves to provide the student with a real live copy of the original language text of scripture. Occasionally, reference will be made to individual words or phrase in the text as a basis for interpreting the scripture text. No knowledge of Koine Greek is assumed in the study guide. If you desire the Greek text to show up on your computer screen and in printouts of each lesson, then you will need to download and install on your computer the free BST Greek font set provided at the blinking hyperlink above. A link to these fonts is provided in each lesson as well.
        Below the Greek text will be a listing of six English translations of the scripture passage, i.e., the pericope. These are intentionally lined up in three columns representing applications of the two basic approaches to professional Bible translation that have emerged over the past century with the establishment of Bible Societies around the world. These two approaches are Form Oriented, (sometimes called Formal Equivalence [FE]) and Content Oriented (sometimes called Dynamic Equivalence [DE]). The Form Oriented translations are located in the left column and include the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), and the New American Standard Bible (NASB). The Content Oriented translations are located in the right hand column and are represented by the New Living Translation (NLT), the Today's English Version (otherwise known as the Good News Version) (TEV), and the Bible in Basic English (BBE). The center column, which represents where the vast majority of modern English translations fall, defines translation methods that employ a combination of these two basic approaches. These translations include the Revised Standard Version (RSV; dominated by the FE methodology with some DE principles used), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV, with a greater balance between the FE and DE methods), and the New International Version (NIV, with more slant toward a DE oriented methodology).
        These principles of Bible translation are discussed at length in a chapter from my Greek 202 course study manual. It is formatted in the pdf file format and can be viewed with the Adobe Acrobat Reader by clicking on the icon .  Ideally, the Bible student does initial reading of the scripture texts in their original language forms, but this is usually limited to seminary trained clergy. For those without skills for reading the Koine Greek of the New Testament, the next best option is to do a comparative study of multiple English translations of the scripture text. But the selection of the various translations is pivotal to successful achievement from this study. Over the years I've found that doing close study from several translations that represent the spectrum of Bible translation methodology provides the greatest amount of insight. The goal of the study of multiple translations is to get the student weaned off looking just at English words, and focused on the ideas expressed in the text. Because of the huge linguistic distance between ancient Koine Greek and modern American English, no single English translation can begin to capture more than a very small part of the meaning in the original language text. Typically this would be no more than 15 to 20 percent of the meaning. By concentrating on ideas instead of words the English language Bible student can manage to grasp significantly more of the meaning found in the scripture.
        In this Study Guide many of the questions will ask you to compare words etc. among these six translations. Frequently, not only will you be able to grasp the interpretation issues better but also, different understandings of the meaning of the Greek text will surface in such a comparative study. Also, the marginal readings of many of the translations have been preserved in the listing so that you can pick up on variations of wording that took place in the ancient copying of the Greek documents of the New Testament. For an outline of this process go to the topics list in one of my New Testament survey courses, namely topic 1.7.

Diagram. This second segment of each lesson utilizes a literary analysis strategy that attempts to visually identify core thought expressions and the expansion elements off the core statements. A detailed discussion of how to use this procedure with the Greek text is found in my publication, Learning Biblical Koine Greek, as well as being located in a pdf file on It can be viewed with the Adobe Acrobat Reader by clicking on the icon Click on the icon to access the pdf file..
        By visually identifying the elements of each independent clause in the scripture text one can more easily see how the ideas are put together in order to create the full expression of thought. Additionally, this technique helps to identify how the series of core statements hang together in order to create progression of thought from beginning to end inside a nature unit of expression called a pericope. An additional procedure called semantic diagramming can be applied at this stage for creating an outline of the passage for preaching or teaching purposes. But this Study Guide doesn't get into this deeper level of analysis.
        In the first segment of James 1:2-4 in Lesson 02, the diagram shows up as follows:

(1) 1:2 Consider it pure joy
          my brothers
           whenever you may fall
                           into various trials
    1:3    because you know
                            that the testing...produces endurance
                                        of your faith

    1:4      and
(2)     let endurance have its complete work
           so that you may be complete
                              lacking in nothing.

In the analysis of this passage, several aspects become clear. The two core statements 1 and 2 are in the form of admonitions. That is, we readers are encouraged to take specific actions. With statement one, two expansion elements are attached. The temporal expression, "whenever you may fall...", defines the instances when the adoption of joy is appropriate. The second expansion element, "because you know..." provides the reason for the admonition: we are to adopt the stance of joy because we know something. The 'that clause' here serving as the direct object of the verb 'know' defines the content of what we are to realize in the moment of trials. The second admonition, statement 2, encourages us to allow a process to run its divinely intended course. That is, we must not short circuit the 'endurance' that the trial is designed to produce. The intended consequence of allowing endurance to run its course is specified in the "so that you may be ..." clause. The three predicate adjectives here employ two common Jewish poetic structures of first synonymous parallelism ("complete and whole") that is then contrasted by its opposite ("lacking in nothing") in an antithetical parallel structure. With the use of this very frequent thought structure in the Jewish wisdom literary tradition, often employed for emphasis sake, James put a powerful emphasis on the intended impact of trials as producing the highest possible level of Christian maturity.
        In each of the lessons, questions in the exegesis section will attempt to use the diagram in order to get into the thought pattern of the scripture text more clearly.
        As a part of the Diagram section, a second section will appear after the diagram under the label Summary. This section will attempt to highlight the basic rhetorical structure of the passage from the diagram and from the translations. In the process, the interpretative issues present in the scripture text will be introduced as a way of setting the stage for the next segment, that called Exegesis.

Exegesis.  This third segment of each lesson is the heart of each lesson. The content of this section is the raising of questions that are focused on various interpretative issues necessary to clarify before a solid understanding of the passage is possible. Assumed in the raising of these questions are the historical - literary principles of biblical interpretation that have evolved over the past several centuries. Through the almost two decades of teaching a year long PhD seminar on New Testament Critical Methodology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, I gained enormous insight into interpretative methodology, usually labeled by the Greek derived term, exegesis. This was supplemented by studying with some of the world's leading experts in this field at the German universities in Bonn and Heidelberg during year long sabbatic leaves in the early 80s and early 90s. Because this subject is so interesting to me, I have spent a great deal of my thirty year plus teaching career learning everything I could about how to do better interpretation of New Testament texts. One thing does become clear: the interpretative approach used will tremendously impact the interpretative understanding of the scripture text. When good methods are used, the likelihood of good, solid understanding of the scripture text is much greater. If you're interested in learning more about this subject, check out chapter two of the New Testament Theology (Religion 314) course that I teach at GWU.
        The first set of questions will have to do with the Literary Setting of the passage. Determining the context of a passage inside a New Testament document is an important part of the interpretation process because this sets boundaries on the possible meaning of the contents of the passage itself. Each passage is one piece of the puzzle called the NT document. Interpretation is in part like putting a puzzle together. Each piece has a certain place that it fits into and thus contributes to the larger meaning of the puzzle.
       The remainder of the questions will deal with both historical and literary issues relevant to understanding the passage itself. Considerable use of supplementary texts, both from the canonical scriptures and from other ancient literature, will be made.
       The design of the Study Guide is that it be a self-contained study of the book of James. In keeping with that design, the questions in the Exegesis section will employ hyperlinks to and/or quotations of other texts. Thus you will be able to complete the answering of each question by referring to the materials indicated in each question. No additional text, either printed or otherwise, should be needed for answering the questions.

Application. This fourth segment of each lesson is intended more as reflection on the study of the passage. In historical exegesis of a scripture passage, the establishment of the "then" meaning of the text comes first. But the process isn't really complete until a "now" meaning of the text is attempted. The historical meaning of the texts needs to brückenschlagen werden, that is, as the Germans say, "slung across the bridge from the past to the present." If the study of scripture is to nourish us spiritually, then an application or applications of the historical meaning of the text must be attempted.
        Some observations may be helpful here. So much of the contemporary devotional study of scripture attempts to bypass the establishment of the historical meaning and jump straight from the text to the present application. This short sighted approach opens up a Pandora's box of interpretative evils. No effective boundaries of meaning are established through bypassing historical exegesis. Thus most any passage can be made to say whatever the interpreter wants it to say. Such an approach additionally ignores a fundamental aspect about divine revelation in the scriptures. The scriptures were given to individuals in a very specific culture, language expression and time period. The Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds of the first Christian century are unbelievably different from twenty-first century American culture. And the initial expression of the New Testament documents was addressed to that ancient world, not to ours! Therefore, the NT text is shaped by that world. An understanding of that world is essential before its meaning can be accurately grasped. Only then can a well defined expression of meaning be established that is to serve as the foundation for any legitimate contemporary meaning of the passage. The limits of the historical meaning impose boundaries on possible legitimate applications of the text to our world. This is at the heart of historical exegesis of the scripture. In more recent decades, deeper appreciation of the literary aspects of the text have taken their place along side the historical aspects. Literary analysis is also essential for clear exegesis. If you're interested in studying this more, then check out my Lecture Notes on this topic in New Testament 102, topic 3.1 at
        The Application questions represent limited attempts to apply the scripture text to various modern day situations. Sometimes, they challenge you as the reader to pause and take spiritual inventory of some aspect of your Christian commitment. Whether or not specific answers are written out, you should spend some time reflecting on the questions. Through your prayerful meditation on these issues, there's no telling what the Lord might do in your life through this study! I know from experience after having taught this material for over three decades that each time I go through it fresh experiences of God's presence and new insights about application turn up.

Bibliography. This fifth segment of each lesson highlights sources for additional study. Hyperlinks to the massive bibliographic database are set up, as described above. This bibliography is intended for a variety of uses, especially at very technical levels of research. You will find listings in many different languages, since authentic New Testament scholarship assumes the ability to read materials in multiple languages, both modern and ancient. When you come to such listings, just do what the old cow does while grazing in the pasture. When she comes to a grassburr or a nettle, she just grazes around it and keeps on going until she finds some tasty grass.
        Additionally, some lessons contain extra listings that are particularly relevant to the passage being studied in a given lesson. These may be more helpful in further study.

Wow! I thought there weren't supposed to be any tests in the LIR courses! You're right, of course. There are no quizzes -- that count -- nor any grades associated with this course. One limitation of the program is that the quizzes only work with the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser or an IE based browser, such as Dune Browser, NeoPlanet, Opera etc. If you're using a Netscape or Mozilla based browser, the tests won't work. Sorry!
        But, the WebQuiz quiz is provided as a part of each of the lessons for a variety of reasons. First, some folks actually love taking tests! Believe it or not! And especially love taking them if there's no grade associated with the test. These self-checks are provided to scratch that itch for these folks. Second, the quizzes are PURELY OPTIONAL. If you don't want to mess with them, then ignore them completely. Third, we're going to have some fun with them in the class time, as we occasionally take the test as a class. They're intended as a learning device with the objective of helping the Bible student learn more about the scripture text.
        The tests are designed to be taken while you on the internet. You can enter your name or not in the first screen that comes up. If you opt to not enter your name, then enter the word 'test' in the two fields for first and last name. One question at a time comes up on the computer screen. Once you've entered an answer to it, then click on the Next icon  in the lower right hand side of your screen. Once you have completed the test, then click on the Evaluation icon  at the bottom of your screen. The program will automatically grade your quiz and display a Results screen. You have the choice of either printing out this page or closing the test. The evalution will show you the missed answers, as well as provide an explanation for the correct answer for each of the questions. Each quiz can generate a total of 50 points.
        Have fun! That's what the tests are there for.

Created by  a division of All rights reserved©