Title – James
Author – Daniel M. Doriani
Publisher – New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2007
1. Unlike Martin Luther, Doriani does a fine job in bringing out the gospel through the book of James. The law in the book drives you to the gospel, similar to Christ’s sermon on the mount. Mercy triumphs over judgment. And greater grace is available to the broken, humbled heart.
2. Doriani explains in a very helpful way the unity of what appears disjointed in the flow of themes.
3. Doriani sprinkles in many illustrations from his life. The transparency with which he shares from his personal, family, and ministry experiences adds meaningful dimension to his exegesis of the text. He shares his own struggles. He is real with his readers.
4. The commentary highlights that the message of James is fundamental to ordinary church life. The practical wisdom imparted in this book is the antidote to congregational strife. James is Christianity 101, where the rubber meets the road.
I especially related to his explanation of the typical preacher pathway in reading the Scriptures:
“When he is a new Christian, the future pastor’s reading is naive and devotional. He devours Scripture, underlining virtually every word in his new Bible, feeling that God speaks directly to him with every word.
After a few years, the budding leader’s reading becomes sophisticated and devotional. He still feels that God is speaking to him in the text, but he has learned to read texts in their contexts. He reads Bible dictionaries and commentaries. He knows the translation strategies of various Bible versions and begins to use that knowledge to get at the original text.
The future pastor decides to go to seminary, where he becomes a technical reader. He reads Greek and Hebrew; he consults scholarly sources. He respects the distance between his world and that of biblical thought. His zeal to describe biblical history, culture, and language grows. He pursues what the word originally meant and perhaps neglects what it means today.
As ordination comes, our friend remembers that his study has, as its goal the edification of the church. He continues to read technically, but now he shares his findings with the church. He becomes a technically, but now he shares his findings with the church. He becomes a technical-functional reader. His reading may be detached, personally speaking, but he stores and organizes his discoveries so he can offer them to others. While this phase may mark a partial improvement, he does not directly profit from his reading of Scripture.
He needs therefore to become a technical, devotional reader. Every technical skill remains, but he reads like a child, letting the word speak directly to his heart again. He gains what Paul Ricoeur calls a “second naivete.” He is both technically astute and meek. He both receives God’s word and expounds it. In this way, he finds strength to endure trials to check the growth of sin” (50-51).
Lord, may my heart be that of a child. May I read your Word with childlike faith and wonder.