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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite James Commentary
This is my favorite commentary on James, and I have read many (see some of my other reviews). Moo has the most accessible, thorough, and easy-to-use commentary that I have read. This Pillar commentary is longer than the same author's commentary written for Tyndale's New Testament Commentary Series. You would do well to buy either one of these.
Moo works very hard to...
Published on April 27, 2004 by Jacob & Kiki Hantla

versus
0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong version
I had purchased this book based on he book cover. It was to replace one that I borrowed. But instead this version I received a later revision of this book.I purposely ordered this version and didn't want another.
Published 15 months ago by Rita Ramirez


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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite James Commentary, April 27, 2004
By 
Jacob & Kiki Hantla (Chandler, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
This is my favorite commentary on James, and I have read many (see some of my other reviews). Moo has the most accessible, thorough, and easy-to-use commentary that I have read. This Pillar commentary is longer than the same author's commentary written for Tyndale's New Testament Commentary Series. You would do well to buy either one of these.
Moo works very hard to be exegetical. He hesitates--no, he refrains--from saying anything that he cannot demonstrate exegetically from the text. He humbly alerts the reader when his view is in the minority or contested and even humbly admits when his view is not the only defendable one (see, specifically James 4:5). To a degree matched by few, Moo not only seeks to technically (without belaboring issues so as to make them inaccessibly technical) defend his points exposing salient points of interest in the text, but he also is a carefully writes his sentences, not wasting words.
The student of the Letter of James would be amiss not to invest in the Pillar Commentary by Moo. For those who would like it a little shorter and a little easier to digest, his Tyndale Commentary on James will suffice as well. Two other James commentaries that I would highly recommend are Kistemaker's and MacArthur's.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars don't be confused, September 11, 2003
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This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
Doug Moo has written two seperate commentaries on the book of James. One is for the Tyndale New Testment series, while the other is for the Pillar New Testament Commentary.
The Tyndale one is much simpler, shorter, and most accessable for the average layperson. The Pillar (a blue cover) has much more depth, including usage of the original greek.
Some of the reviewers below are talking about the TYNDALE commentary and not the PILLAR commentary.
Capiche?
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, April 21, 2006
This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
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).
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great commentary, August 3, 2001
By 
Peter Richert (Round Rock, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
This is the only commentary I have read on James, so I can't fairly compare it to others. But I can't imagine reading a more lucid, informed, intriguing, and just all around Godly understanding of what can be one of the most difficult books of the NT to understand. Moo handles each passage with clarity, being fair to different views and presenting his own conclusions. The book also has a well articulated introduction and discussion of time, place, and authorship.
I would have wished Moo had included Greek words in their original letters as well as their transliteration. I also wish he had interacted a bit more with the Greek text. Moo, however, was only staying true to the general format of the Pillar series, which assumes no previous Greek study on the part of the reader.
Both the hard cover as well as its dusk jacket are well manufactured and good looking. The pages are nice and the small size of the book makes it fairly easy to handle.
Overall, one of the best commentaries on any book that I have read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable modern commentary. Great for Pastoral use, March 6, 2007
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This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
`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.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellect commentary, May 30, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
Basically I use this book as my resource of the Sunday school
class. The more I read it, the more I like it. Moo is very careful in tracing the meaning of the texts by examining the
Old Testament, extra-biblical literatures and the context. If some texts are controversial, he is very even-handed in handling different solutions and comes up with a reasonable conclusion.
The even more important thing is he does not only render good
exegesis but also provide some good applications in christian life. I feel very impressed by his insightful prospectives.
Great book!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite James Commentary, April 27, 2004
By 
Jacob & Kiki Hantla (Chandler, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This is my favorite commentary on James. Moo has the most accessible, thorough, and easy-to-use commentary that I have read. This Tyndale commentary is shorter than the same author's commentary written for Pillar. You would do well to buy either one of these. This one is shorter and easier to digest, but the Pillar commentary is a little longer and more thorough, particularly on passages which are often topics of debate (2:14-26 especially).
Moo works very hard to be exegetical. He hesitates--no, he refrains--from saying anything that he cannot demonstrate exegetically from the text. He humbly alerts the reader when his view is in the minority or contested and even humbly admits when his view is not the only defendable one (see, specifically James 4:5). To a degree matched by few, Moo not only seeks to technically (without belaboring issues so as to make them inaccessibly technical) defend his points exposing salient points of interest in the text, but he also is a carefully writes his sentences, not wasting words.
The student of the Letter of James would be amiss not to invest in the Pillar Commentary by Moo. For those who would like it a little shorter and a little easier to digest, this Tyndale Commentary on James will suffice as well. Two other James commentaries that I would highly recommend are Kistemaker's and MacArthur's.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Call to Spiritual Wholeness, April 27, 2009
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This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
Before reading Prof. Douglas Moo's Commentary on the Letter of James, I propose to the readers two pre-requisites for a maximum enjoyment of this epistle. First, it is useful to read the epistle several times until you know what each chapter and section (or even verse) talks about because Moo often refers to chapters and verses with the assumption that the readers know what they are about. For example, at the beginning of commentary on the last chapter, he reminds the readers of the continuity of v.1-6 to 4:13-17 (p.209), or later on, the command to pray in v.13 has to do with the appropriate response to "trials of many kinds" 1:2-4 (p.234). Second, a rudimentary knowledge of New Testament Greek is helpful. Even more helpful is if the readers own a Greek New Testament because Moo does plenty of word study, not only from the New Testament, but also from the Septuagint, and other inter-testament documents translated to Greeks: primarily Aprocrypha and Pseudigrapha. It would also be an added advantage if the readers have read the entire Bible considering the enormous amount of references made to NT and OT texts; the latter is indispensable since the cultural flavor of the epistle is highly Semitic.

The epistle of James is such a controversial letter that there was a debate whether or not to include it in the Scripture. Luther even went so far to claim that James mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul and all Scripture (p.5). Calvin also conceded that James seems more sparing in proclaiming the grace of Christ than it behooved an Apostle to be (p.5). But I am glad it is included in the New Testament. The reason I love this epistle is aptly given by Moo at the opening of the commentary, that James is intensely practical, concise, and excellent in the use of illustrations as object lessons to get the points across (p.1-2). Unless carefully scrutinized, James seems to be a collection of several disconnected sermon notes. In studying James, Moo divides the commentary into two sections. The first section examines the author, the occasion and date, the theology and the unifying theme of the entire epistle. The second part is the verse by verse exegesis and commentary.

The theology of James centers around the role of faith and works in justification; a subject of an intense theological debate, the sovereignty of God, eschatology, wisdom, poverty and wealth. The unifying theme of the epistle is a call to spiritual wholeness with three subdivisions; when dealing with the trials of life, the use of speech, wealth and poverty. James expands this theme negatively and positively. Negatively, he does so by way of rebuke in pointing out inconsistencies between profession of faith and the practice of faith using the key-word "dipsukos;" a compound word consisting of duo and psuch-h; dual-souled or dual-life. Moo claims James invented this word, because it only shows up twice in the NT, never in the OT; both appear in the same epistle. Here James' concern is to portray a basic inconsistency in attitude and spirit rather than an occasional doubt or lapse. Moo calls it "spiritual schizophrenia". I think Moo is being nice for not going so far as calling it "hypocrisy." Throughout the letter, James brought this dual-souled-ness several times that displays "a basic division in the soul that leads to thinking, speaking, and acting that contradicts one's claim to belong to God" (p.63). These inconsistencies are manifested in wavering faith in the midst of trials (1:8), discriminatory treatment according to one's social status, in other words; favoritism (2:1-4, 15-16), dual-use of tongue to bless and to curse (3:9-12, 4:1-2), and tendency to forget believers' heavenly homeland, and the fact that here below, we are in the state of pilgrimage in the diaspora (4:3-4). Positively, James calls for a spiritual wholeness every believer has been given by grace the power to pursue, specifically in endurance (1:2-4), persevering prayer (1:5, 5:13-18), patience (5:7-8), charity, holiness, wisdom and humility (1:16-18, 21, 26-27, 2:8, 3:17-18, 4:6-8). These are some solid exegesis that I thoroughly enjoy. Herein lies the difference between my exegesis and scholastic exegesis. My exegesis only looks at the semantics and limited view on the context which could easily lead to errors. Scholastic exegesis, on the other hand, in addition to semantics, looks at the context with the support of boatload of other references; indispensable if one were to dig deep into the culture and philosophy in James' days to understand the context and hence, what he had in mind when he wrote the letter. Here Moo refers extensively to Jewish inter-testament literatures, Dead Sea scrolls, Rabbinic literature, Philo, Josephus, Early Christian Literature, and Greco-Roman literature (see p.269-271), in addition to references to other NT and OT passages, as well as commentaries from other authors.

Now in regard to faith and work, Moo seems to single out this issue for a lengthy study and rightly so (p.118-144, p.37-43 being the overview of it). When falsely interpreted, antinomians love Paul by singling out Rom 3:28. On the other hand, the legalists love James by singling out Jam 2:17, 24, 26. But if the Scripture is infallible, there must not be a discrepancy between Paul and James, so Luther's comment here that James opposes Paul and all Scripture treads on a dangerous ground and is unhelpful. The issue of faith and works, of James' particular interest is the "work-less" faith, is inseparable from the big-picture issue of dual-souledness, or the lack of wholeness. James' argument can be divided into the question of the reality of faith and the role of works in justification. Moo argues, faith, in support to James without denying Paul, has to be given a content, and this content is works. It is in interesting to observe the correspondence between faith and works with hearing the Word and doing the Word in 1:22-25. Faith corresponds to hearing the Word while works correspond to doing the Word. Thus, the hearing without doing antithesis is parallel to, or we can even say, that it is a manifestation of faith without works (2:17, 24); a dangerous sign of a dead faith that is unable to save. But James does not argue that works must be added to faith, but a true faith inevitably produces deeds. They are a "test" or evidence by which we determine the genuineness of faith; deeds of obedience to the will of God (p.120). I forgot who made this comment; I think it was John Piper who said, "It is faith alone that justifies, but justifying faith is never alone." But in saying this, there is a lurking Arminian danger, though it might agree with James, but attempts to divorce the sovereignty of God and human responsibility by saying it is eventually our call in everything, whether to exercise faith or to produce good works. This discussion is beyond the scope of the commentary, so it is sufficient to answer this argument for now with Phil 2:12-13 and Rom 11:36. So yes, God is sovereign and yes, we are responsible for our actions.

In regard to the role of works in justification, it is critical we distinguish the sense of justification that Paul and James have in mind and they are not the same. This difference is what leads to Rom 3:28 and Jam 2:24; that is, initial justification and final justification. Moo puts it this way,

"Paul refers to the initial declaration of a sinner's innocence before God; James to the ultimate verdict of innocence pronounced over a person at the last judgment. If a sinner can get into a relationship with God only by faith (Paul), the ultimate validation of that relationship takes into account the works that true faith must inevitably produces (James). [Quoting Calvin] ... as Paul contends that we are justified apart from the help of works (initial justification view), so James does not allow those who lack good works to be reckoned righteous (final justification view)" (p.141-142).

Another fascinating, and I should also add, "brilliant" exegesis is the meaning of faith being active along and completed by the works of Abraham (2:22). The best way to explain this is as follows,

"[in regard to faith was active along works]... Abraham's faith was not confined to a mental reorientation at the time of his conversion or to an occasional verbal profession, but that it was an active force, constantly at work along with his deeds.

[in regard to faith being completed by works]...Abraham's faith reached its intended goal when the patriarch did what God was asking him to do" (p.136-137).

There were a few occasions where I don't necessarily disagree but I just feel either Moo was a little verbose or I am being too simplistic; for example, when exegeting on the word "peiraz" in chapter 1, whether this word refers to trial or temptation. In my view, there is always an element of temptation in every trial; that is; the temptation to despair; or be set-free or relieved by sinning. And if sinning to escape the trial does not help, the alternative is to blame God as what Job was tempted to do, sadly by his own wife in Job 2:9. I might have given too much credit to this commentary, but I went away so happy after reading it that I can't help but consider it as a priceless resource for a solid exegesis on this seemingly disorganized letter, yet full of juicy, powerful, precious, humbling lessons under the heading of the call to spiritual wholeness; a gracious call for believers to "give themselves wholly to the Lord" (p.46).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A model for a well written commentary., March 11, 2005
This review is from: The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Hardcover)
I recently purchased the commentary on James by Moo (Pillar series). Overall, I really like this commentary. It is very readable work, but is filled with a lot of relevant, useful information not readily apparent to the casual reader of James.

One thing that I really liked about the Moo commentary on James is that the information contained in the introduction is invaluable. You will find yourself pleasantly surprised by how good of a foundation he lays down on your basic understanding of the history and controversy concerning James before he goes into the verse by verse detail in the regular section of the book. In short, I would have paid the purchase price for the introduction alone. I also liked the fact that this commentary fairly presents opposing viewpoints about verses where the meaning is not absolutely crystal clear. Moo also makes no bones about which translation conveys the essence of each verse best in places where the translations present the verses a little bit differently. In short, whether a translation, interpretation, or textual issue, Moo never leaves you guessing as to what side he takes. Never though, do you see Moo using the "straw man" technique when critiquing theories that he disagrees with. Again and again, I found Moo to be a clear, honest, and fair guide while navigating the book of James and discussing the issues surrounding it. The book also seems to be constructed well unlike some other commentaries that I have purchased.

On the supposed conflict between the writings of James and those of the Apostle Paul Moo does a wonderful job. Anyone who is confused by the faith / works statements made by James would do well to read this commentary. Afterward, you will understand James 2:14-26 much better.

On the negative side, I did find a few instances where I was wanting a little more. Not that it happened frequently, but it did happen. That is why I could only give 4 stars. (I really wish that we could give 1/2 stars as this book is almost a 5).

In summation, the Moo commentary on James is a wonderful commentary. It's readable, succinct, and informative. If you are in the habit of skipping the preface or introduction when reading a book, make sure that you read the introduction to this one. Having read this very well written commentary on James, I have to say that it was well worth the money spent. Moo's commentary on Romans is every bit as good, check it out.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars yes, the best commentator on James, November 24, 2005
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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.
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The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary)
The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary) by Douglas J. Moo (Hardcover - February 9, 2000)
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