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James (New Testament Readings) [Paperback]

Richard Bauckham

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Book Description

22 April 1999 0415103703 978-0415103701
Richard Bauckham explores the historical and literary contexts of the Epistle of James, discussing the significance of James as the brother of Jesus and leader of the early Jerusalem church. He gives special attention to the aphorisms which encapsulate James' wisdom, and to the way that James' teaching closely resembles that of Jesus.

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It is refreshing to see a biblical scholar who is willing to address theological and social problems so explicitly in his work and who can do so in such a competent manner... this is an important contribution to the study of the letter of James and merits the attention of scholars working in the field... [It] will appeal to a wide variety of readers, from those in ministry to people with a general interest in biblical studuies.

About the Author

Richard Bauckham is Professor of New Testamnet Studies at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of The Theology of the Book of Revelation (1993)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for students of James (and Paul, for that matter) 9 Mar 2001
By Loren Rosson III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bauckham argues that James -- who indeed probably wrote this letter -- was a messianic wisdom teacher who made the eschatological wisdom of Jesus his own and applied it to the resources of Jewish wisdom tradition. He refutes the artificial distinction between sappientalism and apocalypticism, showing how the two went hand-in-hand (albeit in varying degrees) throughout the 2nd-Temple period. Then, comparing the letter to the synoptic gospels, he notes features of comparison between James and Jesus: (a) the focus on the Torah's concern for ethics and the heart as the source of words and actions (Jas. 1:22-25; 3:6-8; 4:11-12); (b) a standard of community living in which solidarity with the poor replaces hierarchy and status (1:9-10; 2:1-7); (c) God's apocalyptic judgment as the overriding motivation for righteous living, with punishment especially threatening the wealthy (5:1-5) -- but no less a reality for everyone else (2:13; 3:1, 4:12, 5:8-9), as is the prospect of reward (1:12, 3:18); (d) the concern for "Israel as a light to the nations", whereby Jesus brought the Kingdom to Israel, and now James addresses Jewish communities in the diaspora (1:1) as the nucleus of the ongoing messianic movement which must serve as a beacon to the Gentiles.

The author shows that James' doctrine of works doesn't exactly correct Paul's doctrine of faith. Paul was hostile to specific kinds of works -- circumcision, food laws, holy days, or any requirements which were a stumbling block to Gentiles; James was enthusiastic for good deeds in general. His discourse in 2:14-26 is general paraenesis, a reminder that good deeds must naturally accompany one's faith, something with which Paul naturally agreed. Paul and James simply mean different things by the term "works". Likewise, they offer different, but not necessarily contradictory, exegetical interpretations of Abraham (Gal. 3:6-9/Rom. 4:1-17; Jas. 2:21-24).

I agree with this particular point, but not with the implication that Paul usually agreed with James or got along with him. In his own review Mark Goodacre notes that "Bauckham comes to us as a kind of modern-day Luke, for whom all in the early church is harmony, where disagreements are only over degrees of emphasis". Quite right, and that paints an equally misleading picture. Paul and James were serious rivals. Paul thought the law was finished, and that good deeds could follow only by another route -- the spirit; James thought the law remained in force. Paul believed in indiscriminate table-fellowship between Jew and Gentile; James did not. Etc.

Quibbles aside, this is the best commentary on James and should be mandatory reading for specialists of James and Paul alike. Bauckham no doubt has Martin Luther shrieking in his grave. Luther's contempt for James as an "epistle of straw" is well-known and still shared by many today. But instead of taking the letter as an inferior corrective to Pauline doctrine, we are compelled to come to terms with it on its own right -- as an encyclical of subversive wisdom written for Jewish communities in the diaspora.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom 27 Jan 2000
By Brian C. Davidson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Richard Bauckham's work is wonderful and quite useful. His approach to James is different than any other I have ever encountered. As a student, I found this book to be very beneficial. This is certainly, however, upper level reading. Bauckham does not try to impress the reader with his vocabulary, but uses words that best convey his message to the reader. Though difficult to read, Bauckham gives numerous examples at each point and thereby allows the reader to leave the point with complete comprehension despite the difficult vocabulary. The message is wonderful, and arms the reader with a new vantage point from which to see the book of James. Bauckham compares the book with other wisdom writings and is quite convincing in his arguments.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Commentary on James 21 Jan 2008
By Lyndon Unger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Baukham has a great commentary here, dealing with many critical issues of history and exegesis. Not a lot of fluff, and not a lot of "Osteen's devotions" kinda comments here. If you're seriously studying James, you need this and the Pillar NT offering by Doug Moo (not forgetting MacArthur, Lenski, Kistemaker, NIGTC, NIVAC, NICNT, BST, R. Kent Hughes and both the 1st and 2nd version of The Expositors). Study the Bible like it's THE Bible!
8 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not his better work 24 Jan 2003
By ForexTech - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Moved by Baukham's classic on Jude, I bought this book. First the grammer as intellectual as it sounds is not clear, it is more philosophical than theological. Then almost everywhere had a reference to Kierkegaard, why? It looked like a review of the opinions and works of Kierkegaard.
The book certainly didn't deliver on the book of James which has a wealth of wisdom.
1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great read, good comentary, however it is ungodly complicated 12 Jun 2009
By Christoper D. Puksta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The title to this review says my main feelings toward it. The book is very helpful in reading James but it is very very difficult to understand. I recommend instead, for an easier read, the NIV Application Comentary on James. Alot easier to read and more worth the price. Bauckham's book too is really expensive and honestly not worth the trouble it was to read...
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