Dale Allison observes how the patterns of most commentaries privilege recent works over older sources. Rather, he says the history of interpretation invites serious consideration for the following reasons. “Such history is intrinsically interesting in and of itself.” “It instills … Continue reading
I’ve read commentaries, I’ve studied with different types of commentaries, I’ve recommended commentaries, and they all typically come with caveats. Unfortunately with each commentary recommendation, I have to follow up with other recommended sources to make up for deficiencies.
Without any reservation, I recommend Varner’s commentary. He has provided a healthy balance of text-critical notes and grammatical analysis with biblical theology. He has provided a quality Evangelical argument to the greater Jacobean scholarly world.
An exegetical method places high demands on the biblical interpreter and invokes a mastery of skills outside himself. Careful attention to grammar, skill within textual criticism, ability to observe the greater whole of biblical theology, etc. beckon the attention of the exegete. The dexterous skill of grammatical and textual expertise must be matched with an artistic ability to encapsulate the overarching biblical description.
Our kind friends at Logos Bible Software have provided me the opportunity to review James in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, written by William Varner. When using commentaries, I tend to have a love/hate relationship with them. Some do not provide answers to the questions I am asking, others critically interact with the grammar but neglect to provide a theological synthesis, while others focus on a theological overview and minimize technical detail. It thrills me to interact critically with this commentary for multiple reasons. Suffice to say, this commentary, whether or not I agree with the interpretations, the theological positions, or argumentation, mimics my exegetical method.
William Varner provides an excellent model of exegesis in his James commentary. He supplies a translation of the text, pertinent text-critical decisions, an exegetical outline, clausal diagraming, careful attention to grammar and the message of James, a biblical theology of James and its relationship to the theology of the Bible, practical implications, and a bibliography for further analysis. Stay tuned for this book review; I anticipate a fruitful review.