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The Letter of James (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)) Hardcover – February 9, 2000
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From the Publisher
Douglass Moo is one of evangelicalism’s most trusted biblical expositors. Having published more than 20 books, and 6 full-length commentaries, Moo has distinguished himself as one of the world’s leading New Testament scholars. A stalwart defender of the Bible’s authority and trustworthiness, Moo continues to be very popular among evangelicals of all stripes, especially those who lean towards the Reformed tradition.
Scripture’s Text Illuminated
As with all volumes in the Pillar series, Moo’s commentary on James makes clear the flow and meaning of the text. Using secondary scholarship judiciously, Moo skillfully links exegesis of the text with critical issues in biblical and systematic theology. Throughout, Moo remains focused on James’s unique letter and message, underscoring that commitment at every turn.
Moo’s commentary is expositional in style and based on a verse-by-verse exegesis of the Greek text. Yet, while Greek is referenced throughout, it is not necessary to understand that language to use the commentary extensively. References appear in parentheticals and readers can use them or ignore them as they wish.
For Pastors, Scholars, & Laity
Whether you're preaching, teaching, or just studying the Bible on your own or in a group, Douglas Moo’s commentary will help you achieve a detailed understanding of James’s letter. Designed for easy navigation, the commentary is easy to adapt to your needs and focuses both on key details and broader theological themes such as the faith and works, wise speech, enduring trials, loving others, and financial stewardship.
For Bible Study
Douglas J. Moo
Kenneth T. Wessner Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College
Douglas Moo is one of the most influential evangelical biblical scholars in the world today. Moo taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for more than 20 years, and in 2000 began teaching New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School. He has written numerous commentaries and published an introductory volume on the New Testament, co-authored with D.A. Carson.
More by Douglas J. Moo
- The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT)
Praise for The Letter of James
Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Seminary
“Fully abreast of the latest scholarship on James, Moo here walks readers with remarkable clarity through even complex exegetical issues. He consistently comes to convincing conclusions . As a bonus, he occasionally inserts comments by way of application that reflect his warm pastoral heart.”
Ralph P. Martin, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Rich word studies and up-to-date background material—especially drawn from the Jewish Wisdom tradition—make this a notable addition to the current literature. Whether in the classroom or in the pastor’s study, this commentary will be much welcomed and valued.”
Dean Deppe, Calvin Theological Seminary
“This commentary offers something for everyone: it is simple enough for every Christian believer to benefit from yet profound enough to challenge scholars in their presuppositions and interpretations.”
Keith Mathison, Reformation Bible College
“Douglas Moo is one of the top conservative New Testament scholars alive today. He has written one of the best commentaries on Romans, and now one of the best commentaries on James. If you can only have one commentary on James, this is the one to have. Highly recommended.”
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.
Top customer reviews
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While looking at the commentary itself, Moo begins with a excellent introduction, holding fast to James, the bother of Jesus, as the author of the book which bears his name. Furthermore he details the circumstances as well as the nature of the letter as well as formulating one of the best outline on book of James I have seen to date. In regard to the textual commentary, Moo focuses on the modern reader, yet never under estimating the importance of the original context. Furthermore he gives great focus to a Biblical Theological study of this New Testament epistle.
In regard to the tone as well as the practical application of this work, Moo writes with a deeply convicting pastoral nature. Moo uses his position as a professor and his pastoral hear in every paragraph of this work. You can see his desire for academic excellence paired with his desire for anyone who reads the Book of James to grow in their face and have their faith demonstrated by their works. Lastly Moo gives a plethora of practical application which a pastor, Bible Study leader, or Layman, can you use in their teaching as well as personal study. I highly recommend this commentary to any and all of the app for mentioned people, for this work there’s many future readings.
This book was provided to me free of charge from IVP Academic in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
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.
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.