Having used the first edition extensively years ago, I’m glad the PNTC series gave Moo the opportunity to revise and update his commentary on James. Moo himself in the preface tells us that this a substantial revision that extends the volume by 30%. That additional material does not, however, mean that he has changed his conclusions overall, but just that he took a stab at strengthening them. There’s not much I can say about this author as he is well known to most Bible students and so most readers enter this volume with some idea of what to expect. What stands out the most, perhaps, is that the majority of his work has been in the Pauline epistles and he sneaks off here to James of all biblical writers!
Though I had read the introduction of the earlier work in the past, I carefully read the introduction of this revised work. It’s exactly what I love in an introduction. The word that comes to mind is masterful. Far more important than reaching the same conclusion that I favor is the author’s ability to lay out all the major viewpoints, respectfully dive in and explain pros and cons, and then present his or her own conclusion. Again, I need an author to teach me things I don’t know and I’ll then make my on conclusions. The commentary that provides that succeeds. This one does.
As a case in point, after being thoroughly impressed with Moo’s presentation of what has been the major viewpoints of the overall theme of James, I couldn’t fully agree with his ultimate view of James and how he meshes with Paul. Still, in a masterful way he laid it out where I had the tools to make a conclusion myself. I always rate highly a commentary that does that for me. Additionally, he did it in less pages than many writers can accomplish. There’s something to be said for clarity.
Everything else is here too: bibliographic information, theology, exegesis and all from a guy who knows how to do it. In you don’t agree with his conclusions in the introduction, then his coverage of James 2 might raise an eyebrow at times. But isn’t that true of every commentary on James good or bad?
The Pillar commentary series has earned its lofty praise. Someone needs to light a fire under the authors of the remaining volumes needed to finish coverage of the New Testament, but every theological library simply must have the ones in print. Moo has only made this contribution on James better and so it will have decades of positive influence remaining.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.