††††††††††††††††††††††††† Criswell Theological Review 1.1 (1986) 167-169.

††††††††† Copyright © 1986 by The Criswell CollegeCited with permission.




††††††††††††††††††† A REVIEW ARTICLE

†††††††††††††††††† ††COMMENTING ON

†††††††††††††††††† COMMENTARIES ON

†††††††††††††††††† THE BOOK OF JAMES



††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† DAVID S. DOCKERY

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† Criswell College, Dallas, TX 75201


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





††††††††††† 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

Bible Commentary.

††††††††††† Hiebertís exposition is warm, devotional and thorough, very typical of the

work we have come to expect from him. Vaughan's work is similar, though

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 Peter, by William Barclay. Philadelphia: Westminster,

††††††††††† 1958.

"James," by Donald Burdick in Vol. 12 of The Expositor's Bible Commentary,

††††††††††† edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

†††††††† Dockery: COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES †††††††††††††††††††† 169


Expository Sermons on the Epistle of James, by W. A. Criswell. Grand Rapids:

††††††††††† Zondervan, 1975.

Commentary on James, by Peter Davids. NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

††††††††††† 1982.

James: A Good News Commentary, by Peter Davids. GNC; San Francisco:

††††††††††† Harper and Row, 1983.

James, by Martin Dibelius, translated by Michael A. Williams. Hermeneia:

††††††††††† Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975.

James, by Vernon Doerksen. EBC; Chicago: Moody, 1983.

The Epistle of James, by Burton Scott Easton, IB; New York: Abingdon, 1957.

The Practical Epistle of James, by Frank E. Gaebelein. New York: Daniger and

††††††††††† Raughley, 1955.

Doing Your Part When You'd Rather Let God Do It All (James 2-5), by Gene

††††††††††† Getz. Glendale: Regal, 1984.

The Measure of a Christian (James 1), by Gene Getz. Glendale: Regal, 1983.

The Epistle of James: Tests of a Living Faith, by D. Edmond Hiebert.

††††††††††† Chicago: Moody, 1979.

The Epistle of St. James and The First Epistle of St. Peter. by F. J. A. Hort.

††††††††††† Minneapolis: Klock and Klock (reprint, 1976).

A Belief that Behaves, by Guy King. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott,

††††††††††† 1941.

The Epistle of James, by Sophie Laws. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980.

The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle of James, by

††††††††††† R. C. H. Lenski. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1966.

James, by Ralph P. Martin. WBC; Waco: Word, forthcoming.

James, by Thomas Manton. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, reprint 1983.

The Epistle of St. James, by Joseph B. Mayor. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,

††††††††††† revised, 1954.

The Epistle of James, by C. Leslie Mitton. Edinburgh: Marshall, Morgan and

††††††††††† Scott, 1966.

The General Epistle of James, Peter and Jude, by James Moffatt. New York:

††††††††††† Harper and Brothers, 1928.

The General Epistle of James, by Douglas Moo: Tyndale; Grand Rapids:

††††††††††† Eerdmans, forthcoming.

The Message of James: The Tests of Faith, by Alec Motyer. Downers Grove:

††††††††††† 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. Grand Rapids:

††††††††††† Eerdmans, reprint, 1979.

Epistles of James, I and II Peter, Jude, by B. I. Reicke. AB; Garden City:

††††††††††† Doubleday, 1964.

Studies in the Epistle of James, by A. T. Robertson. Nashville: Broadman, 1958.

A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St. James, by James

††††††††††† Hardy Ropes.lCC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1916,

Commentary on the Epistle of James, by Rudolf E. Stier. Minneapolis: Klock

††††††††††† and Klock, reprint 1982.

††††† Dockery: COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES †††††††††††††††††††† 169b


The General Epistle of James, by R. V. G. Tasker. Tyndale; Grand Rapids:

††††††††††† Eerdmans, 1956.

James: A Study Guide, by Curtis Vaughan. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969.

Be Mature, by Warren Wiersbe. Wheaton: Victor, 1978.




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