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James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) [Kindle Edition]

Craig L. Blomberg , Mariam J. Kamell , Clinton E. Arnold
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Designed for the pastor and Bible teacher, the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament examines the biblical text in its original
environment. Notable evangelical scholars carefully attend to grammatical detail, literary context, rhetorical flow, theological nuance, and historical setting in their interpretation. Critical scholarship informs each step, but does not dominate the commentary, allowing readers to concentrate on the biblical author’s message as it unfolds. While primarily designed for those with
a basic knowledge of biblical Greek, all who strive to understand and teach the New Testament will find this series beneficial. The general editor for this enterprising series is Clinton E. Arnold The following focused sections help readers understand
the text:
Literary Context: Explains how each passage functions within the book
Main Idea: Summarizes the central message of the passage
Translation in Graphic Layout: Presents a translation through a diagram that helps readers visualize the flow of thought within the text
Exegetical Outline: Gives the overall structure of the passage
Explanation of the Text: Provides interpretive insights into the background and meaning of the text
Theology in Application: Discusses how the message of the text fits within the book itself and in a broader biblical-theological context, suggesting applications for the church today


In their study of "James", Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell introduce readers to three key themes that dominate the letter: trials and temptations; wisdom and speech, particularly with a view to obedience; and, wealth and poverty. Readers may be surprised to see how the famous passage on faith vs. works actually emerges from the more central topic of wealth and poverty. Replete with insights and timely theological applications, this commentary provides pastors, church leaders, and those in the academy with a complete, 'one-stop' resource they need. Designed for the pastor and Bible teacher, the ZECNT brings together commentary features rarely gathered together in one volume. Written by notable evangelical scholars, each volume treats the literary context and structure of the passage in the original Greek. The series consistently provides the main point, an exegetical outline, verse-by-verse commentary, and theology in application in each section of the commentary.

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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4832 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
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  • Publisher: Zondervan (6 Oct 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001NLKVJ0
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By C. Kidd
Zondervan have recently released several new volumes from the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT) series. Along with the volume on James by Craig Blomberg published in 2008 are volumes available this winter on Galatians (Schreiner), Ephesians (Arnold), and Matthew (Osborne). Zondervan Academic and the Koinonia Blog asked for people to review these volumes, and I recently finished thumbing through the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament for the book of James by Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell.

First off I love the size of the book, a little bigger than many of the standard commentaries, but not a huge heavy-weight that you wouldn't want to carry around in your bag. It makes very good use of a clear font and the footnotes are easy to follow, precise but don't take up too much of the page. Jumping to the other end of the book it has a fantastic ending: following the commentary there is a chapter on the theology of James which highlights 11 key themes in the book each with a couple of paragraphs reflecting back on the actual text and commentary. This is then followed by a series of indexes: scripture, subject and author - all very useful.

The book itself has a very clear introduction, and this is then followed up with helpful and accurate commentary. The commentary is laid out with a literary context, a main idea for each passage, a detailed translation, a structure, an exegetical outline and then a verse-by-verse explanation. Each section then concludes with a theology in application section which is very helpful for preachers and teachers because even if you disagree with the application it brings a helpful starting point.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to a new series 19 Dec 2008
By Russell Gaulke - Published on
For those pastors like myself who have enough Greek to make themselves dangerous, this new series is great.
I could not believe that the text was analyzed using sentence diagramming. What a concept! There are also concise summaries at significant junctures in the text.
Those of you familiar with Blomberg's skill as a scholar and expositor will not be suprised to find this is a great commentary.
You will not be buried in details, yet there is real meat here, interaction with current scholarly discussions, and support for why the author makes exegetical decisions.
I look forward to other volumes in this series.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Commentary on James 18 Dec 2010
By Marcus Maher - Published on
The layout of this series is unique and very helpful. One concern that I had seeing the commentary proper split into so many sections, was that there would be substantial overlap of material. My fear proved to be unfounded. The authors and editors did a stellar job at fully utilizing the format. I also must say that they hit their intended audience dead on. The amount of technical information was just right. They don't bog you down with gobs of detail on minutiae, but there's enough to inform you on important matters, whether they be grammatical, lexical, or of cultural/historical background.

As for the contents of the commentary, again I was quite pleased, though, of course, certain elements of the commentary were better than others. The introduction was brief but helpful. It covered the usual topics, such as authorship, dating, and the circumstances prompting the letter taking traditional stances and giving reasonable defense for their positions. Blomberg and Kamell also spent several pages explaining the overall structure of James. I found this to be the most beneficial section of the introduction as I've always struggled to see an overall cohesiveness to the letter. They argue in the introduction (and defend in the commentary proper) that the entire letter focuses on three themes: trials, wisdom, and riches and poverty. These are introduced initially in 1:2-11, reiterated in the same order in 1:12-27, and then developed at length in reverse order from 2:1-5:18.

Of the three main topics of the letter, I most appreciated Blomberg's and Kamell's discussion of wealth and poverty. Much of what James says on this topic sounds so harsh that it's easy to say that he didn't really mean it that strongly. Blomberg and Kamell don't go down that path. They're not afraid to make the conclusions that many of us don't want to hear like, 'It may well be true that it is impossible to be both rich and a Christian unless one is generous in giving from one's riches' (254 - emphasis mine). This does seem to be the clear emphasis of Jas. 2:14-26. At the same time I liked the balance of their approach. They don't go overboard like some liberation theologians do. James is not advocating salvation by social class, but again, that shouldn't make us wealthy Western Christians any more comfortable in our shoes.

At a broad level, several aspects of the commentary stand out. One is the way in which Blomberg and Kamell colorfully draw out the meanings of the various metaphors and adjectives that are sprinkled throughout James. For a reader familiar with the text it can be easy to gloss over these, but Blomberg and Kamell help you understand how they would have been heard by the first audience. One example is in the sexual and reproductive metaphor in Jas. 1:14-15. Specifically, they point out that James is using the metaphor to show how difficult it is to stop the process of desire, sin, and death once it has started. 'Here James uses a more vivid metaphor, showing the reproductive process as difficult to stop once it begins...One can almost envision three generations here: desire as a "parent," sin as a "child," and death as a "grandchild"' (72). This isn't a mind blowing observation, but it's easy to miss this type of thing and Blomberg and Kamell consistently make the easy to miss, obvious, while presenting it in a fresh way.

I also appreciated the way in which the commentary matched James in tone. James sometimes is very cordial and at other times rebukes his audience. Blomberg and Kamell are not afraid to wear both of those hats. At several spots throughout the commentary they addressed the reader directly. This is often not done in commentaries. Many commentators are willing to write purely at the level of description (and granted this may be a necessity in most academic series). I am very glad that they were willing to confront the reader on several matters, especially in a series geared towards pastors and teachers. If one is going to teach the text, one must first live the text. It's easy to try to get away without applying the text to yourself, but Blomberg and Kamell do their best to keep that from happening.

My only complaint with the commentary is that too much space was allotted to the issue of gender-inclusive translation. I favor gender-inclusive language, and I personally use the TNIV and NRSV as my primary translations, so it's not as if I disagree with their translation. It just seemed like every word that could be translated in a gender-inclusive manner drew substantial comment. In fairness much of this was relegated to the footnotes, but I am a compulsive footnote reader, so I quickly drew tired of the same issue being rehashed.

Overall, I have to say that James is an excellent commentary that will both inform and nourish the reader. Every pastor, seminary student, and serious lay student should have this volume on their shelf. It will provide you with the literary, lexical, and grammatical help that you need while also furthering your thought on the implications of the text in the life and ministry of your church.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful resource for pastors and teachers 17 May 2010
By M. Farrell - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a commentary, I would rank this second to Luke Timothy Johnson's Anchor Bible commentary. It's quite different, focusing less on introductory issues and classical literature, and more on practical theology. The introduction is much briefer yet includes a helpful summary of the structure of James discerned by the authors, and some discussion of typical issues such as authorship.

Two main features were particularly helpful to me in teaching James throughout this year: (1) the presentation of structure with carefully worded interpretive descriptions that help the student grasp the overall flow of James; (2) the 'Theology in Application' sections that give suggestions for how to embody the text.

Finally, though I am competent in Greek, one last feature may be helpful for others, namely, that though the exegetical discussions include the Greek text, it is presented in a way that knowledge of Greek is not necessary making this commentary useful for wide readership.

I very much recommend this as a unique and helpful commentary on the shelf of pastors and Bible teachers.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The good, the goofy and the egregious 16 Dec 2010
By John Umland - Published on
I received this copy for free on the condition of a review from me. I was very excited to receive a commentary for review. I was even more excited that it was on James which I had been studying with my church's young adult group this autumn. There were questions from the group we couldn't answer, and I hoped some of them could be answered in this commentary. I have a bad habit when it comes to perusing new books and magazines. I tend to start at the end and work towards the front. At the end, I encountered a goofy statement, which I will specify later, that put a bad taste in my mouth. So I realized I need to start at the front of the book. I know that it's hard to write at the end with the same passion and clarity that one started with in the beginning, and that I had to let them show me their best efforts in the beginning. I was rewarded.

The introduction to the series informed me that this was a commentary for someone who know Koine Greek and would like to see it applied in Bible interpretation. But it also promises to stay out of the weeds, so that the busy pastor can get enough meat for his own devotional study as well as enough to share with his congregation. As someone trying to retain his NT Greek, but unable to retain his Hebrew, I was happy that the format keeps the greek, but transliterates the Hebrew. It felt like this series is for people like me. This is good. It also explains the layout for each section of Bible discussed, e.g. literary context, main idea, translation and graphical layout, structure, exegetical outline, explanation of text, and, finally, theology in application. Frequently, the authors for this epistle, often left the section under translation empty and referred to the graphical layout. Literary context and exegetical outline also overlapped greatly. I think these sections are too muddled, and come across a little goofy. The explanation of the text is usually excellent. I really enjoy the interaction with multiple approaches to the passage in discussion. Although the bibliography is large, the index shows that only seven or eight other commentators received the bulk of the dialog. I really like footnotes, which this series uses. When books use endnotes, I need two bookmarks, because I am constantly checking the references. I want to know if statements are assertions or examples. Footnotes make this essential step much easier for me. I also appreciate references to ancient readings. References to Augustine and the inter-testamental book Sirach make the research more commendable. Overall, I think the authors were consistent in keeping their application apart from the explanation. It is impossible to do this perfectly, but the effort is duly noted. However, it is the application sections that tended to disappoint me the most. I will provide examples soon.

Nevertheless, the introduction to James is excellent. They argue well for an early date. A good argument considers many other options and shows the weaknesses leaving theirs as primary. They show in the introduction that they can do this very well. Later on, they tend to resort to assertions, which leave this reader, who so throughroughly enjoyed their well developed arguments earlier in the book scratching his head. I have to blame the editor here, for not challenging the authors to flesh out their assertions. [I will provide an example soon. I want to move through the book sequentially, and not jump out of order.] Their arguement for the coherence of the epistle is also excellent. I am fully persuaded by their understanding of the flow in Jame's thoughts. They do seem to have an ax to grind against the "name it and claim it" stream of theology, and frequently note where James' statements would contradict their understanding of this perticularly American theology. However, accustomed to their careful argumentation in other areas of this commentary, I was disappointed to not see them attempt to interact with any defenders or advocates of this theology and how they might understand James. Hence, although I am sympathetic to the authors disdain of this theology, I have no way of knowing if they are attacking a straw man or a well informed understanding. This is an example of theirs of being telling me instead of showing me. I wish an editor had challenged them instead of giving them a pass on this one.

Any evangelical commentary on James that seeks respect also needs to understand well historically and widely the issues of faith and works that James brings up in chapter 2. By arguing for an earlier date than Paul's epistles to Rome and Galatians, they can offer an explanation that avoids conflict with Paul. "Perhaps "works" might by better translated as "action" in this context [James 2:14 -JPU] to 'avoid confusion with Paul's teaching [against] nomistic religion, i.e., "works of the law." ' " (p. 129) They quote Martin from the WBC commentary on James. Further on, when discussing James 2:17 they elaborate, " 'Works' here are not the Pauline 'works of the law,' such as circumcision, but rather the works of love, such as caring for those who are in need, not showing favoritism, being humble, or being slow to speak. In essence, works are te sum total of a changed life brought about by faith. Where 'Paul denies the need for "pre-conversion works," ' James emphasizes the absolute necessity of post-conversion works.' p. 132 Again they quote Martin. I appreciate two other quotes they use to elucidate this conversation between apostles when they are discussing James 2:24. "As Joachim Jeremias famously epitomized it, Paul speaks of Christian faith (trust in Jesus) and Jewish works (obeying the law so as to justify oneself), whereas Jamers refers to Jewish faith (pure monotheism) and Christian works (good deeds that flow from salvation). Or as Frances Gench nicely phrases it, 'Paul is dealing with obstetrics, with how new life begins; James, however, is dealing with pediatircs and geriatrics, with how Christian life grows and amtrues and ages.' " p.139 I think these quotes show their agreement with evangelical thought on this passage. I wish they had delved more into Orthodox and Catholic thinking however. They did a great job in discussing this passage, but then things went goofy and egregious in their application section.

In the Theology in Application section following their discussion of the second half of James 2, red flags started to rise for me. The first flag for me is this line,
James's language does, however, support a properly qualified liberation theology and lordship salvation. While not necessarily justifying violence of Marxism in pusuit of one's cause, James certainly would share the concern of liberation theologians to do far more for the poor, individually and sytemically, than many branches of recent Christianity have attempted...It is precisely those people who do make this claim [Christians - JPU] who incur the scorn of devotees of other religions that recognize the need to do good in the world, thereby making it harder for such people to discern and accept authentic Christianity! pp. 143-144
The oxymoron of "qualified liberation theology" made me raise my eyebrows. Is it qualified when it's not marxist? Does such non-Marxist liberation theology exist? Has liberation theology actually brought people into the kingdom of God? If they mean social justice concerns, why not speak that way, instead of bringing in the heavily laden with too much baggage badly worked out liberation theolgy? And why the sympathy to the canard of the church does nothing to impress the other religions in the world? No religion has done more to improve the lives of world's poorest and weakest than Christianity. Certainly, individual Christians disappoint, which James accosts, and even larger groups of Christians are not outward focused, but overall, no other religion can hold a candle to Christianity in regards to social justice in terms of scope and influence. Finally, I was the most concerned with their wavering on death bed converts, who are unable to work out their faith. If they had listened to their quote of Gench earlier, this should not have even been a topic without certainty. However, they write, "But what of those who seemingly have no opportunity to demonstrate good works at all, such as deathbed converts? It is hard to know for sure, but one can easily imagine their very professions of faith inspring others who hear (or hear of) their words, as with the classic example of the criminal on the cross with Jesus ( Lk 23:40-42). Thus they have exhibited at least one, highly significant good deed..., to say nothing of whatever other changed attitudes have occurred, whether or not they have the opportunity to express them to anyone else." p.146. I am not sure what they can't know for sure. Jesus himself said in John 6:29 Jesus told them, "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent." In Luke 18:14, after comparing the repentant tax collector to the arrogant Pharisee in the temple, Jesus concludes "I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." I feel that Blomberg and Kamell have stepped outside evangelical and Biblical thought by doubting the grace of God even for one at death's door, who may not be able to respond to the invitation to adoption vocally. This, to me, is egregious.

In contrast, when they moved to James 4:1-12 and discussed in the application section the topic of judging, I was blessed. They write,
The problem in most Christian contexts, however, is not in dealing iwth the extreme, clear-sut cases, but in finding fault with fellow believers in teh grayer areas. Stulac suggests three ways in which Christians are often too quick to criticize: "judging the motives behind other's words of actions in church business, judging how others spend money and judging how others are rearing their children." p. 202
Disappointingly, they seem to exhibit this very behavior in the very next application section. Regarding James 4:13-17 they draw the following for application.
The percentage of needy in America today may be noticeably smaller, but worldwide the suffering as a result of a lack of material resources remains staggering, and it is the wealthy West that has replaced Rome as the primary exploiter of the natural resources of poorer countries to sustain our ever-fattening consumer demands. Obesity is at an all-time high in the United States, while millions starve to death elsewhere. p.211
A couple things shock me, but probably not as the writers intended. "Exploiter" is a charged word. Although it is a nuetral word in essence, it's implication is negative. Also, I'm not sure what resources we are exploiting without fair exchange. We buy oil from Mexico and Canada, who don't mind our business. We buy hybrid cars which require batteries and chargers that depend on rare earth metals. A poor country who might sell those metals, certainly are not driving these hybrids, nor have any other use for those metals, but appreciate having something to export, and a country willing to pay for it. These are but a couple counter-examples to SHOW, instead of asserting, that the reason applied toward application is sometimes deficient. The last sentence I quoted is especially weak. It almost seems to claim that Americans are fat because we are taking food out of the mouths of the hungry around the world, which is untrue. Almost all famines are due to the politics of wicked governments. The US gives food away all over the world, but some governments, e.g. North Korea, use that food to feed the politically connected and armies, but not the weak. The 1980's response to Ethopian famine, for which there was plenty of food but corrupt politicians, was Band-Aid which sent money to Ethiopia, which used that money to buy weapons. However, it seems the authors are judgmental of American spending and eating habits, while teaching us to apply principles against such postures. This is goofy, if not egregious.

Finally, I must point to the goofiness at the end that I read in the beginning. It seems to come from the pen of someone with little historical perspective. They write,
A generation ago it was almost unheard of to raze an entire building just to put another one on the same site, or to level a whole shopping center to replace it with a new one, or to tear down an entire athletic stadium just to bulid a larger, fancier one; but today all of these are common occurrences. How many churches think that the only realistic option when they outgrow one facility is to build a bigger, more upscale one, with perhaps millions of dollars diverted from truly helping the world's destitute, physically and spiritually? One shudders to think of the potential judgment of God being stored up by so many examples of profligate waste. pp. 233-234
These sentences are judgmental and ahistorical. Razing buildings with the intent to replace them has been happening for millenia. Sometimes the bricks from one building are removed to build a new one. Sometimes buildings are added onto to make them bigger. I'm not sure if the authors are advocating more suburban sprawl. Sometimes buildings are replaced because fixing the current one costs more than knocking it down and starting over. Sometimes older buildings are poisonous due to lead paint, asbestos, and mold and are not worth rehabilitating. Perhaps the authors have no appreciation for great cathedrals. But I do. Is it really a matter of right or wrong, or just opinion? It seems out of line for them to predict judgment for how some church groups choose to worship God with the money God has given them. If anything, it seems contradictory to what they preach on judgment earlier in the book. I proclaim it goofy.

Overall, this really good commentary, has some really goofy parts, and some egregious parts. Thus, in my calculation, this results in a goofy commentary. As with all commentaries, one needs to enjoy the meat and spit out the bones. I think a tougher editor might have reduced the amount of bones in this book. I think I will hold onto this one for the really good content, but not share it without plenty of preparation for the borrower.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blomberg on James 20 Nov 2011
By Joshua Schwisow - Published on
The Epistle of James has sparked discussions for centuries and it continues to play a unique role in the New Testament canon. It is in many ways quite different from the other epistolary literature of the New Testament while still retaining unity with the rest of the New Testament witness. For the student of the Bible, there are many good commentaries on James to consult, both old and new.

The first offering in the ZECNT series is on James written by Blomberg and Kamell. The ZECNT format is quite helpful for the student and the pastor as it contains a unique array of features. These features include literary and structural discussions, exegesis, theology in application, and a visual breakdown of the passage in terms of structure and outline. This series brings together many of the best features of other commentary series such as in-depth exegesis of the Greek text, application, and literary studies. The format seems to cover many different bases at once making it a useful tool for a variety of situations.

This particular commentary on James by Blomberg and Kamell has much to commend it. Both Blomberg and Kamell are well acquainted with the literature on James and put this knowledge to good use in their exegesis of the text. The student and pastor will find this commentary to be a useful tool in guiding them through the Greek text and its grammar. The theology in application sections are generally good but in some cases miss the mark. These sections always involve more subjectivity than the exegetical sections and Blomberg and Kamell's theology is clearly displayed in these sections.

They deal with most of the major questions that the student of James will ask. They provide a fairly traditional (and correct) exegesis of James on justification and there are some fascinating discussions on the topics of wealth and poverty and healing and prayer.

One particular issue that I took with this commentary is the repeated references to inclusive language throughout the commentary. There are a number of footnotes and sections of the text that argue for inclusive language translations. Particularly problematic is the idea that 'andros' and 'anthropos' are used as synonyms in James. There is also an excursus in James 3 as to whether James believed women could be teachers. Since they always translate 'adelphoi' (masculine plural) as "brothers and sisters" they are led to discuss James' view on women in leadership. It is unfortunate that they spend so much time on this issue since it is not an aspect of the text itself but is clearly more of a theological agenda of Blomberg and Kamell. (For clarification, Blomberg is a complementarian of sorts, I do not know Kamell's views).

Despite my reservations about some aspects of this commentary it remains a helpful study of James and the student or pastor should find it profitable in the process of exegesis and exposition of this important New Testament Epistle.

Thank you to Zondervan for providing me with a review copy!
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