††††††††††††††††††††††††† Criswell Theological Review 1.1 (1986) 167-169.
Copyright © 1986 by The
††††††††††††††††††† A REVIEW ARTICLE
†††††††††††††††††† †††COMMENTING ON
††††††††††††††††††† COMMENTARIES ON
†††††††††††††††††† THE BOOK OF JAMES
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† DAVID S. DOCKERY
For many years, perhaps because of the overriding influence of Martin
Luther's prejudice toward this book, James was neglected by NT scholars.
Happily, that is changing. The student of James will be tremendously aided by
several fine commentaries, especially those that have been published in the last
decade. During this time, there have been important contributions made at
both the popular and technical levels. While no one would need all of these
commentaries, each one, for various reasons, makes a valuable contribution to
the study of the epistle. In this review article, we hope to assess the strengths of
some of the volumes as well as note the various perspectives from which each
has been written. In doing so, it is our purpose to provide guidelines for the
busy pastor, teacher or student who is seeking help in the exegesis and
exposition of this important NT book.
††††††††††† The classic work on the epistle is still the fine commentary by James B.
Mayor (first published in 1913). As a full scale commentary, it is still the finest
exposition available on James, even considering the recent publications. The
newer volumes by Peter Davids (1982) in the New International Greek Testa-
ment Commentary and Sophie Laws (1980) are very valuable as well. Davids'
work is a masterpiece in scholarship interacting with newer and older litera-
ture, including works in German and French. He writes from an evangelical
perspective and is quite creative as he weaves together the theological and
literary themes of James. Laws' work is useful, but not nearly as creative. The
New International Commentary series has replaced the older volume by
A. Ross (1954) with a more thorough exposition by James Adamson (1976).
Adamson's work is on the English text as is another volume by Davids (1983) in
the Good News Commentary series. For works on the Greek text, in addition
to Mayor and Davids (1982), the exegete will be served well with the works by
W. E. Oesterley (revised 1979) in The Expositor's Greek New Testament,
R. C. H. Lenski (1966), and the esteemed older works by F. J. A. Hort
(originally published 1909) and J. H. Ropes (1916) in the International Critical
168 ††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
††††††††††† Critical commentaries written from a non-evangelical perspective are
Martin Dibelius (1975) in the Hermeneia series and Bo I. Reicke (1964) in the
Anchor Bible. Both contain valuable insights, especially in dealing with the
literary structure of the text. Reicke's work on James is meaty and his
interpretation is less "individualistic" than other volumes in the Anchor Bible
series. C. Leslie Mitton (1966) is especially helpful in relating the teachings of
James to the teachings of Jesus.
††††††††††† Evangelical commentaries (in addition to Adamson and Davids) which
will be helpful, especially for the busy pastor, are D. Edmond Hiebert (1979),
Alec Motyer (1985) in the Bible Speaks Today series, Donald Burdick (1981) in
The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Curtis Vaughan (1969), R. V. G. Tasker
(1956) in the Tyndale series and Vernon Doerksen (1982) in the Everyman's
††††††††††† Hiebertís exposition is warm, devotional and thorough, very typical of the
work we have come to expect from him.
briefer. The volume by Burdick is a nice attempt to relate the work of James to
OT wisdom literature and the teachings of Jesus. Motyer's volume is very
practical and will be of great value in sermon preparation.
††††††††††† Lesser known volumes that have been recently reprinted include Rudolf
Stier (1982) and Thomas Manton (1983). These volumes, generally Reformed
in theological perspective, are devotionally rich. They tend to go beyond the
meaning of the text at times in both devotional and theological reflection. They
have tendencies to be verbose when briefer explanation would have been
††††††††††† The preacher will find nice practical-homiletical works on James which
are beneficial and rewarding. For illustrative and preaching material, the
choices are many. Included among these are Guy King (1941), Frank Gaebelein
(1955), A. T. Robertson (1958), W. A. Criswell (1975), Warren Wiersbe (1978)
and Gene Getz (1983-84).
††††††††††† The choices are many and one must consider matters of theological
perspective, exegetical insights, expositional thoroughness and economy when
seeking to purchase volumes on this most practical epistle. For balance in all
areas, one would do well to have available Mayor, Davids, Motyer, Adamson
and Hiebert. One should also keep an eye out for the forthcoming volume on
James in the Word Biblical Commentary by Ralph P. Martin. Also, a new
volume in the Tyndale Series by Douglas Moo of Trinity Evangelical Divinity
School will replace the older volume by Tasker. If they are typical of the
quality and style of previous volumes in these series, they will be welcomed
Commentary on the Epistle of James, by James B. Adamson. NIC; Grand
††††††††††† Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.
The Letter of James and
by William Barclay.
"James," by Donald Burdick in Vol. 12 of The Expositor's Bible Commentary,
††††††††††† edited by
Frank E. Gaebelein.
†††††††† Dockery: COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES †††††††††††††††††††† 169
Expository Sermons on
the Epistle of James,
by W. A. Criswell.
††††††††††† Zondervan, 1975.
Commentary on James, by Peter Davids. NIGTC;
James: A Good News
by Peter Davids. GNC;
††††††††††† Harper and Row, 1983.
James, by Martin Dibelius, translated by Michael A. Williams. Hermeneia:
The Epistle of James, by
The Practical Epistle of
by Frank E. Gaebelein.
††††††††††† Raughley, 1955.
Doing Your Part When You'd Rather Let God Do It All (James 2-5), by Gene
The Measure of a
Christian (James 1),
by Gene Getz.
The Epistle of James:
Tests of a Living Faith, by D.
The Epistle of St. James and The First Epistle of St. Peter. by F. J. A. Hort.
A Belief that Behaves, by Guy King.
The Epistle of James, by Sophie Laws.
The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle of James, by
††††††††††† R. C. H. Lenski.
James, by Ralph P. Martin. WBC;
James, by Thomas Manton.
The Epistle of St. James, by Joseph B. Mayor.
††††††††††† revised, 1954.
The Epistle of James, by C. Leslie Mitton.
††††††††††† Scott, 1966.
The General Epistle of
James, Peter and Jude, by James Moffatt.
††††††††††† Harper and Brothers, 1928.
The General Epistle of
by Douglas Moo: Tyndale;
††††††††††† Eerdmans, forthcoming.
The Message of James:
The Tests of Faith,
by Alec Motyer.
††††††††††† InterVarsity Press, 1985.
"The General Epistle of James," by W. E. Oesterley, in Vol. 4 of The
††††††††††† Expositor's Greek New Testament, edited by W. R. Nicoll.
††††††††††† Eerdmans, reprint, 1979.
Epistles of James, I and II Peter, Jude, by B. I. Reicke. AB; Garden City:
††††††††††† Doubleday, 1964.
Studies in the Epistle
by A. T. Robertson.
A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St. James, by James
††††††††††† Hardy Ropes.lCC;
Commentary on the
Epistle of James,
by Rudolf E. Stier.
††††††††††† and Klock, reprint 1982.
††††† Dockery: COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES †††††††††††††††††††† 169b
The General Epistle of
by R. V. G. Tasker. Tyndale;
††††††††††† Eerdmans, 1956.
James: A Study Guide, by Curtis Vaughan.
Be Mature, by Warren Wiersbe.
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