I recently received a review copy of the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on James by Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell.
I was particularly excited to receive this book for two reasons:
- I like Craig Blomberg. He’s a careful scholar.
- I don’t have any commentaries on James beyond Thomas Constable’s free commentary. Side note: Constable offers a wealth of knowledge on most books of the Bible. If you’re a Bible study leader or a new minister on a budget, you should download his notes.
So here’s my take on the commentary:
- It’s nice and short. This is a plus, not a minus. Too many commentaries today run to the thousands of pages. This volume is long enough to helpfully explain puzzling aspects of the text without being so massive that the central message gets lost.
- It pays attention to usability. For example: the commentary on each verse is preceded by a bolded English translation of the verse followed by the Greek text. Contrast this with most commentaries that seem to assume you’ve got three or four books open on your desk (or windows on your monitor) at once (view the explanation of James 1:2 to see what I mean).
- It keeps you oriented. Every section begins with an outline of the surrounding text and an extraordinarily clear grammatical outline that makes the author’s argument clear. You can see a sample page at Google Books (click that link — seriously).
- The commentary ends with a very helpful summary of the overall theology of the book of James — something I wish more commentaries did. The discipline of Biblical theology would be much richer if that were the case.
- It uses footnotes. Yay!
- I dug into some of the more puzzling verses in James and thought that Blomberg & Kamell explained them with clarity and wisdom. Disclaimer: I have not read this commentary all the way through.
Overall, I recommend this commentary if you need to preach or teach on James anytime soon and urge you to look carefully at the other volumes in the series as reviews on them become available (the linked website — bestcommentaries.com — is, in my opinion, the best place to begin searching for a commentary).
Thanks for the freebie, Zondervan! I would have told the truth if your commentary was lackluster, but I am delighted to report that this is a solid exposition of the book of James.