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The Epistle of James (New International Commentary on the New Testament) [Hardcover]

By James B. Adamson (Author)
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Item Number 143914  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   227
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.61" Width: 6.46" Height: 0.88"
Weight:   1.16 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1995
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  080282515X  
EAN  9780802825155  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In this thorough exegesis of his own working translation, Adamson combats some prevalent notions and corrects misunderstandings of the nature of this unique epistle, which, he says, cannot really be understood apart from the whole context of the New Testament. The NICNT series has become recognized by pastors, students and scholars alike as a critical yet orthodox commentary marked by solid biblical scholarship within the evangelical Protestant tradition.

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More About James B. Adamson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Adamson is Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Rosa, California. He is his postgraduate work at Cambridge University where he was awarded the PhD for his disseration on the Epistle of James.

James B. Adamson currently resides in Santa Rosa, in the state of California.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > New Testament   [2831  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A good contribution by a dedicated James scholar.  Mar 6, 2007
`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.
A little disappointing  Nov 27, 2004
The New International Commentary on the New Testament is generally an excellent series because of its highly readable narritave, conservative viewpoint, high scholarship, and the pastoral love that comes through in the narrative. In this particular volume in the series, however, the "high scholarship" overshadows the other three characteristics of this series, making it a very disappointing read for this reviewer.

The Reverend Doctor James Adamson, a Presbyterian minister in Santa Rosa, California, writes in the Introductin that one of the chief goals of this commentary is to prove that James carefully plotted out his epistle, and that it was not (as many commentators believe) an unstructured collection of random thoughts. This goal and the scholarly way in which it is pursued makes this commentary fairly confusing and did not do much to strengthen either my faith in Christ or my understanding of James' epistle in general.

Adamson employes two techniques frequently. One is his habit of finding a word or theme in the text of the epistle, then connecting it to the same word or theme elsewhere in the epistle to prove its structure and unity. The second technique is to introduce and explain what other (disagreeing) scholars say about a particular section of James, then (once the oppornent is fully explained) Adamson presents his own view, explaining why his view is superior. I found myself quite frustrated with these techniques. In the first technique, I found myself agreeing that a structure exists, but Adamson doesn't draw any conclusions from these connections as far as the overall message of James is concerned. ("Sure, he talks about the evils of uncontrolled speech earlier as well. Yes, it shows unity in the epistle, but so what? How does this help me in my faith life and how can I communicate this to the congregation members in a sermon/Bible Study?") The second techniques is also frustrating because I really don't need to fully understand a theory that Adamson will debunk in a few paragraphs anyway. If I wanted to know what Martin Luther thinks about James, I'll read Martin Luther. But I'm not reading Luther, I'm reading Adamson. I want Adamson to present what he thinks without having to first disagree with Luther.

While there are many aspects of this book that I did not enjoy, there were others that I thought were helpful. I appreciated the fact that Adamson kept his textual criticism to the footnutes and the excursis sections. Textual criticism on a Catholic Epistle is always an issue, and he handled it quite well here. Furthermore, his treatment of Extreme Unction, his sensitivity to the Jewish background of the book, and his efforts to show the complimentary relationship between Paul's theology and James' theology are all helpful and appreciated.

In all, Adamson tends to gravitate more toward the scholarly issues involved in James--the ones seminary professors would be interested in, as opposed to the ones pastors and lay people would find helpful. I fully believe that Adamson knows this Biblical book and can apply it in a way helpful to church work professionals, but he did not do this in this volume.

Mildly recommended.

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