The book of James has often been described as the Proverbs of the New Testament—meaning wisdom that is only loosely organized, without a strict linguistic structure. Varner’s work reveals that James did indeed intend his message to be understood as a unified whole, rather than merely loosely connected thoughts.
Commentaries that deal explicitly with the Greek text of the New Testament are not common. Those that move beyond word studies and basic grammar are even less common. Professor Varner does what is rare: He treats lexical semantics, grammar, and syntax at both the sentence and discourse levels. Applying the nascent discipline of discourse analysis, this volume provides a careful and helpful study of the message of James that exhibits “trust in the text” to accurately communicate James’—and God’s—message to the church.
—Rodney Decker, professor of New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary
Will Varner has written an excellent volume that both introduces discourse analysis and provides useful and meaningful commentary on the book of James. He rightly shows that discourse analysis is not a thing to be feared, but rather something of direct benefit to exegetes and practitioners. Varner’s introduction provides a concise and helpful articulation of his method of discourse analysis, and his analysis itself is grounded in the text throughout. I highly recommend this commentary as an exemplification of what the future of commentary writing can and should look like.
—Stanley E. Porter, president and dean, professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College, Ontario, Canada
You’ve no doubt heard that the three most important things about real estate are: location, location, location. Likewise, the three most important things about biblical interpretation are: context, context, context. There are great dangers in trying to make sense of a whole sentence by a word or two, or a book by only one paragraph. Will Varner has done pioneer work in this unique commentary on James with this perspective in full focus. This volume explains the whole in view of the parts, and the parts in view of the whole. No other commentary has helped me more for understanding and preaching the book of James than this linguistic commentary. It is simply outstanding!
—Rick Holland, executive pastor, Grace Community Church, director of DMin studies, The Master’s Seminary, CA
William Varner has done an outstanding job of taking complex ideas and presenting them in an accessible and very readable fashion. His unique commentary on James not only provides much insight into the text, but will also serve as a valuable resource for helping students of Greek take their language skills to the next level.
—Martin Culy, associate professor of New Testament, Briercrest College and Seminary, Saskatchewan, Canada
The field of ‘Jacobean’ studies has been enriched by this innovative and provocative work. The author’s discourse analysis approach sets him apart from the traditional commentaries on James. Yet he is dedicated to a methodology grounded in the grammatical realities of the text that enables an individual to ‘hear’ the message of James. Readers will find this a perceptive and challenging commentary filled with rich exegetical insights and informed discussions on the theme, unity, structure, and intertextuality of James. Varner recognizes the value of knowing a biblical author’s literary style in solving exegetical and textual problems. Students and scholars of James will accrue rich dividends by investing in the reading of this thought-provoking, well written, and linguistically informed commentary.
—Dr. Paul W. Felix, associate professor of New Testament, The Master’s Seminary, CA
Will Varner’s commentary breaks new ground with a discourse analysis of the epistle of James. Varner tills the soil with innovative linguistic, syntactical, semantic, and rhetorical investigations. He also employs cutting edge work in the field, including verbal aspect theory, speech-act theory, and comparative studies of wisdom literature. The reader will reap a new understanding of the structural “big picture” of the epistle, rooted in cogent discussions of syntactical cohesion, semantic chaining, linguistic prominence, and discourse peaking. The careful cultivation of the text yields a rich harvest of original insights.
—Paul Hartog, associate professor, Faith Baptist Theological Seminary
William Varner is professor of Bible and Greek and director of the Israel Study Program (IBEX) at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California. He also pastors the Sojourners Fellowship at Grace Community Church.