This commentary series is established on the presupposition that the theological character of the New Testament documents calls for exegesis that is sensitive to theological themes as well as to the details of the historical, linguistic, and textual context. Such thorough exegetical work lies at the heart of these volumes, which contain detailed verse-by-verse commentary preceded by general comments on each section and subsection of the text.
An important aim of the NIGTC authors is to interact with the wealth of significant New Testament research published in recent articles and monographs. In this connection the authors make their own scholarly contributions to the ongoing study of the biblical text.
The text on which these commentaries are based is the UBS Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland and others. While engaging the major questions of text and interpretation at a scholarly level, the authors keep in mind the needs of the beginning student of Greek as well as the pastor or layperson who may have studied the language at some time but does not now use it on a regular basis.
The Epistle of James has long languished in comparative neglect while its more famous sister letters in the Pauline corpus enjoyed the limelight of New Testament research. Recently, however, new interest in the Epistle of James has pointed scholarly attention once more at some of the still-to-be-answered questions raised by this important New Testament book.
This widely acclaimed commentary by Peter H. Davids interacts freely with both the more recent and the older literature on James, German and French works. At the same time, Davids' own penetrating insights themselves spark fresh debate on the composition, purpose, and meaning of the text of James.
In an extensive introduction Davids considers questions concerning authorship, date of composition, form and structure, and the language and style of the text. He also explores seven key theological themes in James: suffering/testing; eschatology; Christology; poverty piety; the relation of law, grace, and faith; wisdom; and prayer.
The commentary proper exhibits careful exegesis and a wealth of insight into the meaning of the text for its original audience as well as for the church today. Davids is well acquainted with the relevant Hellenistic, Jewish, and early Christian literature and uses it frequently to point out parallels and to clarify the meaning of the text. Davids's work also includes several helpful tables, charts, and one of the most comprehensive bibliographies on James available anywhere.
“Wisdom, then, is the possession of the believer given by the Spirit that enables him to see history from the divine perspective.” (Page 72)
“For James, then, there is no such thing as a true and living faith which does not produce works, for the only true faith is a ‘faith working through love’ (Gal. 5:6; cf. Mussner, 132). Works are not an ‘added extra’ any more than breath is an ‘added extra’ to a living body. The so-called faith which fails to produce works (the works to be produced are charity, not the ‘works of the law’ such as circumcision against which Paul inveighs) is simply not ‘saving faith.’” (Page 122)
“‘Perfection,’ meaning a full-blown character of stable righteousness, is the virtue of the righteous man.” (Page 70)
“The point James makes is that one ought not to complain or strike out, one ought not even to bear it with quiet resignation as the Stoics advised, but rather one should pray, i.e. act as the pious Hebrew did in the Psalms (e.g. Pss. 30; 50:15; 91:15; Pss. Sol. 15:1); one should cry out to God and trust in him to redress the wrong and correct the evil. God is one who can be trusted ‘in the dark.’” (Page 192)
“James sees the culmination of Christian life not simply in the secure holding of the faith, but in a fully rounded uprightness, an approach toward the character of God or an imitation of Christ.” (Page 70)
A major contribution to our understanding of James...Davids has skillfully used contemporary critical and exegetical tools to produce a first-rate commentary.
—Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Davids's commentary is a mine of information and is characterized by careful exegetical method… It deserves critical attention.
—Journal of Biblical Literature
Davids presents a conservative yet provocative look at the Epistle of James… The many well-balanced discussions are strengthened by good summaries and frequent parallels to ancient literature… A fine exegetical piece.
Peter H. Davids is professor of biblical theology at St. Stephen’s University, St. Stephen, New Brunswick. He is also the coeditor of Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments.