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I notice that some early versions of the greek James 2:20 read "faith without works is dead", whilst other mss read "faith without works is useless".

Any ideas as to how this may have come about?
Shlama Akhi Michael,

The Aramaic word in James means "dead." This variance seems to have originated within the Greek tradition itself - perhaps by people who thought "dead" may have sounded too harsh theologically.