Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 12:1 (2002) p. 141
The Letter of James. By Douglas J. Moo. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. xvi + 271 pp. ISBN 0-8028-3730-1. $28.00.
This latest contribution to the Pillar series comes from a person who has already written a commentary on James for the Tyndale series (The Letter of James [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985]), Douglas Moo. Thus, he is returning to an epistle through which he has already worked. In fact, he states that he had his earlier commentary typed into a computer as a starting point for the present one. Thus, the question arises, Does he have anything new to say?
It is clear that Moo is aware of the significant number of works on James that have appeared in the past 15 years, for he cites some of the literature from as late as 1998 (there are significant omissions) and interacts repeatedly with Luke Timothy Johnson’s 1995 Anchor Bible commentary. In that sense this work does indeed have something new to say in relation to the former one. Furthermore, it is a judicious, evenly paced commentary that surely fulfills the goals of the Pillar series. Yet, in expecting new insights into James, I was slightly disappointed in this work. Perhaps this is simply because Moo accomplishes the goals of the series.
Prof. Moo views James as written by the brother of Jesus (seemingly favoring the Helvidian view, although ending his discussion with the Epiphanian) to hellenized Jewish-Christians scattered from their homeland. The date he suggests is just before the Jerusalem Council (p. 26). His reasoning for the dating is (1) the letter does not understand Paul’s position on justification by faith as it would have understood it after 48 ce, and (2) it shows no awareness that Gentiles are included in the church on a law-free basis (decided in the Jerusalem Council). He can take this position because (1) he somehow knows that the meeting Paul records in Gal 1:19 “did not extend to theological discussion”; (2) he never discusses Gal 2:1-10, where theological discussion clearly does take place, although he dates the Antioch incident in Galatians (Gal 2:11-14) to a year or so before the Council (p. 17). It is not that his conclusions are impossible—others have advanced similar dating—but the apparent ease with which he comes to his conclusions without discussing all the data leaves one uneasy.
In Moo’s discussions of genre and structure a similar problem appears. He probably finished his research before seeing the late 1998 work of Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr (NTS 44:420-43), so does not discuss the idea that the work may be a D...
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