The letter of James, notes leading evangelical opinion maker and NT scholar, Scot McKnight has become the "ignored leader" of the New Testament. "In fact", McKnight continues, he is sometimes said to be part of the 'junk mail' of the New Testament" (McKnight: 2010, p.9). While such a statement seems stark, it is indisputably true as one only need peruse the various New Testament theologies produced in the 20th century to see that this "towering figure in the earliest church" has been functionally consigned to theological "oblivion" despite our canonical affirmation.
McKnight, contrary to this pattern rightly recognizes that James was the head of the first and most influential Christian body of the earliest church holding enough power to be considered a rival with Paul in their ancient setting, revered as preeminent among the early church leaders (Gal. 2.9), and as McKnight states cleverly notes was the church's first pope (p. 12). This puts us in a good place to know exactly where Scot McKnight is coming from in his NICNT commentary The Letter of James. McKnight's commentary places a high priority on reading James' powerful letter on its own terms; not Paul's terms; not Luther's terms; not on our terms; James' terms. And those terms are: Ancient Judaism; Torah; the Prophets; the Land; and the centripetal city of Jerusalem.
It is all in this "little" epistle, and with clarity, wit, theological acumen, and exegetical precision, McKnight draws them out. But there is more, James contains more literary allusions and quotes from the Gospels than any other NT book, and how do these inform us about James' intentions and the stature of this letter? McKnight is the ideal scholar to mine the text for in search of answers, and to display those answers--to the degree that they may be found--and display on James' terms and without weakening their force by subsuming them under the writings of other New Testament authors. And that is just what we find here: a clear, scholarly, wise, and witty presentation of the book of James for the church, the university, the pastor, the scholar, and the Bible student. As such, this commentary is a critical volume for any New Testament library. It is filled with detail and fresh perspective and on every page we are encouraged to reconsider James' letter anew.