Item description for The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) by Douglas J. Moo...
Overview This highly original commentary seeks to make the Letter of James clear and applicable to Christian living today. Interacting with the latest views on James but keeping academic references to a minimum, Douglas Moo first introduces the Letter of James in its historical context and then provides verse-by-verse comments that explain the message of James both to its first readers and to today's church.
Publishers Description Few books in the New Testament are better known or more often quoted as the Letter of James. Because James is so concise, so intensely practical, and so filled with memorable metaphors and illustrations, it has become one of the two or three most popular New Testament books in the church. This highly original commentary seeks to make the Letter of James clear and applicable to Christian living today. Interacting with the latest views on James but keeping academic references to a minimum, Douglas Moo first introduces the Letter of James in its historical context and then provides verse-by-verse comments that explain the message of James both to its first readers and to today's church.
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.3" Width: 6.36" Height: 1.04" Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Release Date Feb 9, 2000
Publisher WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING CO.
Series Pillar New Testament Commentary
ISBN 0802837301 ISBN13 9780802837301
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More About Douglas J. Moo
Douglas J. Moo (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is Kenneth T. Wessner Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the author of commentaries on Romans, James, 2 Peter and Jude, and Colossians and Philemon and coauthor of An Introduction to the New Testament. He also headed the committee on Bible translation for the NIV revision.
Douglas J. Moo has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary)?
Highly readable modern commentary. Great for Pastoral use Nov 30, 1999
`The Epistle of James' by James B. Adamson, 1976, 227 pages in the series The New International Commentary on the New Testament; `The Letter of James' by Douglas J. Moo, 2000, 271 pages, a volume in the series The Pillar New Testament Commentary; and `James' by Ralph P. Martin, 1988, 240 pages, A volume in the series Word Biblical Commentary are all `full featured' and recent commentaries on the first of the short `catholic' epistles in the New Testament.
I find it amazing how different the material is in these three volumes. After 1800 years of commentary, one would expect a fair amount of uniformity in thinking about this short letter, but there is a remarkable range of differences in emphasis among the three.
Those of you who are familiar with the world of biblical commentary will recognize that all three are part of major series of commentaries. Adamson and Moo belong to series dedicated to the New Testament, while Martin's volume is an offering of a larger series on both Old and New Testaments. And, each volume is organized in a way to match the editorial style of their series. This is most clearly seen in Martin's volume, as his work is organized in virtually the same way as the much larger work on Paul's Epistle to the Romans by the distinguished scholar, James D. G. Dunn. This is no surprise, as Martin is the New Testament editor for his series, the Word Biblical Commentary.
Ranked by scholarly detail, Martin has the most and Adamson has the least, with Moo somewhere in between; but don't take from this that Martin is heavy on the Greek and Adamson has no original Greek. All three are specifically written for the scholar and assume that the reader either knows classical Greek or is willing to slog through all the Greek words and expressions. The irony here is that while Martin is the most heavily scholarly, it may also be the most accessible to the lay or strictly pastoral user, since this series divides scholarly observations into the `Comments' on each paragraph, while more general thoughts are spelled out in straight English in the `Form/Structure/Setting' section and later in the `Explanation' section following the `Comments'. Adamson organizes all his `special' or more technical topics in `Excursus' sections following his main commentary. I found this just a tad distracting, especially when I discovered some mistakes in references to these Excursus sections in the main text.
All three authors give us their own translations of the text, and all three agree on where the difficult phrases are to be found. If I were to pick a volume purely on the basis of their translation, I would prefer Adamson, as he seems to give translations that best resolve these difficult sections. But, in all three cases, the authors agree on where the difficulties lie and, in general, the nature of the difficulties.
In the three authors' introductory chapter on the author, themes, and canonical status of the letter, all three agree on the major points. They uniformly agree, for example on the belief that the letter does, in fact, represent the thoughts or writings of James, the brother of Jesus, who was head of the Christian Jews in Jerusalem up to about 62 CE. They also agree that the final form of the letter was rewritten and polished sometime in the early 2nd century, CE. The authors are also uniform in their citing Martin Luther's misunderstanding of James; however, I would give Luther credit for seeing scriptural support of many Roman Catholic doctrines, even if any sound reading of `James' shows that this support is probably stretching James points just a little too far.
On the major themes of the letter, I generally prefer Martin's emphasis on the three topics of `Wisdom', `Perfection', and `The Piety of the Poor' to the other authors' interest in theology and the law. James is clearly spending less times on these typically Pauline topics than he is on lessons for a Christian life.
Among all the other differences, it is most remarkable to see all the differences between how the three authors structure an outline of the short letter. If you didn't know better, you may think they were talking about two different writings. This is just a symptom of the fact that `James' is much less a theological argument a la `Romans' and much more a collection of lessons on prayer, right Christian behavior, and the implications of faith. This is consistent with the fact that the letter has much in common with the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Matthew (See Martin).
One last difference I detect between the three is the fact that Martin makes more connections to modern theology of, for example Dietrich Bonhoffer, while Moo and Adamson have more citations to the great reformers, Calvin and Luther.
If I had to pick only one of these, I would go with Martin's volume in the Word Biblical Commentary series. If I were interested only in pastoral interpretation, I would go with Moo or the article `The Letter of James' by Luke Timothy Johnson in `The New Interpreter's Bible', since both refer heavily to the standard NIV and NRSV translations. If your interest is in a scholarly study of the letter, you will probably want all three.
Great Nov 30, 1999
This is Moo's second commentary on the epistle of James. He wrote his first one in 1985 as part of the Tyndale series. This commentary is the result of fifteen years of reflection on that work. The content of this commentary makes it evident that this is the mature thought of a noted scholar on the letter of James. Those fifteen years left him more convinced "that the heart of the letter is a call to wholehearted commitment to Christ" (x). Moo provides a lengthy introduction to this epistle (46 pages worth). This introduction includes the history of James in the church, nature and genre, authorship, theology, occasion and date, and structure of James. Concerning authorship, Moo holds that James, the bother of Christ, is the author. He presents arguments against this traditional view and then answers them. The section on the theology of the book is a feature more commentaries would do well to include. He dates the writing of the letter around the middle of the 40s AD. This is important because the date of writing has great implication on the relationship of the letter to Paul's teachings. Moo does not place a ridge structure on the letter. Instead, he finds "several key motifs" which "are often mixed together with other themes in paragraphs that cannot be labeled as neatly as we might like" (45). Denying the assertion of some commentators that the letter has no unifying purpose, Moo argues that the central concern of the letter is spiritual wholeness of the readers (47). Moo's analysis of the text is insightful. His word studies are well done. He presents a wide range of possible meanings but uses the context to determine which meaning is James's meaning. Moo also does a good job in showing James's relationship with Paul. James is not writing against Paul. James means something different by faith than does Paul. They are addressing different problems. The format of the commentary is user friendly for the most part. One helpful aspect is that Moo's introductory notes precede the verse by verse exposition of major points and most sub-points. Moo transliterates Greek words making the commentary usable to those who do not have the advantage of knowing Greek. One slight critique concerns the chapter divisions. The chapter divisions of the commentary are based on the chapters of James. This is fine, but the table of contents is broken down by his outline. One would whish the editors would choose a method of division and stay with it. The only other criticism is that Moo's writing style can be difficult at times. These two minor criticisms in no way change the fact that this is a masterpiece. It is short at only 251 pages not counting indexes. Anyone from a layperson to a scholar will benefit from this commentary. This reviewer would recommend it without hesitation (something he does not do often).
If you have a question, this book has the answer Nov 30, 1999
If you are looking for an answer to a question raised about the meaning of the book of Phillipians, you could not find a better treatment. This is a wonderful resource and fine treatment of the text. I used it in a series of sermons, and found it very easy to acess and get the gems of the book.
yes, the best commentator on James Nov 30, 1999
I affirm the previous reviewer's comment that Moo has written the best commentary on James. Having compared the earlier Tyndale edition with the Pillar edition (prior to my purchasing a copy of one of them for myself), I want to add that I found the Tyndale/IVP edition only slightly shorter (it has smaller font!), and actually preferable in terms of the greater clarity with which Moo deals with significant issues (e.g., the relationship of faith & works). Thus, there was for me no compelling reason to purchase the (more expensive) Pillar edition.
Two commentaries by Moo Nov 30, 1999
Professor Moo has written two commentaries on James. The hardcover one is in the Pillar New Testament series, while the paperback one is in the Tyndale NT series.
I have little to add to the previous reviews.
this site.com mistakenly thought they were different editions of the same book. Therefore, the reviews on either commentary are posted on the sites for both books.