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Commentaries on James are now available from a variety of angles, and the book is no longer dominated by how and why or why not the letter comports with the theology of grace in Paul. Instead, there is a powerful interest in James on his own terms and everyone has an angle on the sorts of issues that arise from that historical context. Scholarship on James took on new interest with our first commentary, that of Peter Davids. My own commentary (NICNT Eerdmans) will be out next Spring.
The painting to the right, by a follower of Cimabue, is of James the brother of Jesus though at times it has been said to be the apostle James. But I haven’t been able to find a detailed study of this painting. By the way, everything written today about James is rooted in Martin Dibelius’ very old, detailed commentary but everything good in Dibelius has been absorbed in the recent commentaries.
P. Davids, The Epistle of James: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary)
, whose distinctive contribution was to see James as having gone through a redaction or two. I’m not convinced of his theory on this, but I am convinced that James’ text is not a simple linear piece of logic. The Anchor Bible by LT Johnson, The Letter of James (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) is loaded with delicate observations about word studies as he examines James in his Greco-Roman context.
Alongside these two, I always read R.P Martin, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 48, James
because this commentary is just so complete. All scholars know that one of the finer commentaries on James is by Rob Wall, Community of the Wise: The Letter of James (New Testament in Context)
and it reads well.
My former teacher and colleague, DJ Moo, The Letter of James (Pillar New Testament Commentary)
has two commentaries on James and I think this one in the Pillar series is one of the best in that series. Zondervan has a brand spankin’ new series that will be of use to pastors who want to keep up with their exegesis, and Craig Blomberg writes this with an up and coming James scholar, Mariam Kamell, James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)