New Year, New Name, New Location, Same Blog

I’ve had the domain name, “oldinthenew.org” for some time now, but I have not done anything with the actual index page. So, I’m planning to rename my blog and relocate it from jamesthejust.oldinthenew.org to www.oldinthenew.org. I will rename the blog “Old in the New.”

This new blog will still feature resources on James the Just and the Epistle of James, but it will broaden in scope a bit. In general, I intend for “Old in the New” to refer not just to the use of earlier Scripture in the New Testament, but also to the use of various “old texts” in new ways – new technology, new studies etc. I am interested in the use of Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity, but I am also interested in using software, blogs and computers in general to study Scripture. “Old in the New” will be my catch-all blog for what interests me, but I will continue to focus on biblical studies and particularly James the Just and the Epistle of James.

So, if you have me bookmarked at the old address, you may want to change it to the new one . . . that is the “Old in the New” one. I will actually migrate to the new address on New Year’s Day.

Doriani’s Reformed Expository Commentary on James

P&R Press is set to release Daniel M. Doriani’s commentary on James in the Reformed Expository Commentary series in January 2007. Here is P&R’s blurb, complete with an endorsement by the king of blurbs, J.I. Packer:

With 59 commands in 108 verses, the epistle of James has an obvious zeal for law. In his imperatives, James directly communicates the royal law, the law of King Jesus (2:8). Thus, the hasty reader will not see much of the gospel in James. But as Doriani reveals in his insightful commentary, the double mention of God’s grace at the rhetorical climax of the book shows that the gospel of James is the message of God’s grace for sinners.

“Well-researched and well-reasoned, practical and pastoral, shrewd, solid and searching, this is a truly Jamesish exposition of James’s letter, top-class in everyway.”

JI Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College

Pages: 216
Binding: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-87552-785-7
Publication Date: 1/2007

Doriani is Senior Pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also Adjunct Professor of New Testament and former Dean of Faculty at Covenant Seminary. Doriani has posted the lectures and notes from his class on “Hebrews to Revelation,” including a few lectures on James:

Hebrews Conclusion; James: Introduction PDF HTML PDF
James 1: The Trials of Life PDF HTML PDF
James 2: Good Works Demonstrate True Religion PDF HTML PDF
James 2-5: Justification in James PDF HTML PDF
James 3-5: Rhetorical Analysis & Structure PDF HTML PDF

I look forward to reading this “Jamesish exposition.” If anyone knows any more information on this commentary or series, post a reply.

Christmas is all about getting what you want…

This Christmas I have been struck by the unexpected and subversive nature of Christ’s birth. Into a world where Caesar had brought the pax romana by the strong road of oppression, God spoke the Word of peace in a vulnerable babe. It is one thing to fix eyes on the vulnerability of the Christ child. It is another altogether to recognize how God was about the business of challenging the powers of this world in unexpected ways.

While Herod sat on the throne of Judea, there came the anouncement of the prophet who would cry out as Elijah did against Ahab (Luke 1:5-23). While Augustus surveyed the vastness of his empire, he overlooked the birth of the King of Kings (Luke 2:1 ff). Thus was initiated the Kingdom of God – a kingdom that by sacrifice defies oppression. This kingdom would extend beyond the borders of Israel. God declared through Isaiah:

It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6 niv)

Salvation is promised to the ends of the earth!

For all those who yearn to see this final salvation, for all those who groan for the redemption of creation, Christmas is about getting what you want… Just don’t expect to receive it in a package you would recognize.

Advent and the Winter Solstice

A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Numbers 24:17; Genesis 49:7 and Isaiah 9:7

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” I know it’s trite, and cliché, but this time of year in New England reminds me of the truth in this statement. It is wholly (or is it holy?) appropriate that the church has placed the celebration of Christ’s first and second advents at this time of year. I’m reminded of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In the film, the people of Rohan are pinned by Saruman’s uruk-hai against a dark mountain in a crumbling fortress. There was hope, however, in the last words of Gandalf to Aragorn, “Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east.” When hope was lost, and the only choice facing King Theoden was a suicidal ride into ruin, their savior arrived with a host of Rohirrim to break the dark horde.

We hope not in the words of a fictional wizard but in the precedent and promise of the King of Kings. His precedent was set as the Morning Star rose to a cradle full of hay. Tonight as the sun is at its lowest and the night it’s darkest, we look forward to the promise that the light will one day break the blackest shadow at the final ascent of the star of Jacob.

James’ Burial Box An Alien Ossuary!

Apparently this is old news (2002), but I finally uncovered the real secret of the James Ossuary. According to the esteemed Russian newspaper, ПРАВДА* (PRAVDA), the James Ossuary was crafted from an unknown substance by aliens in the first century. The article reports that Andre Lemer** “himself” asserts:

Hundreds of such coffins have been found in Jerusalem during archeological excavations. The research has showed that they were made in the first century A.D. That is why, the first thought that I had in my head when I saw Jacob’s coffin was there is something wrong with it. The stone differed from all other stones that I saw before. It had very small pores that could hardly be seen. At the same time, it was incredibly solid. After the tests that we conducted in the lab, I can assure you that our planet does not know this material.

The article goes on to quote the esteemed Dmitry Astrakhanstev of the Ufology and Anomoly Center:

Observations and research show that aliens were involved in a lot of things that were happening during biblical times. For example, the birth of Jesus Christ. How can this be explained, the immaculate conception? There is even a hypothesis that says that Mary and Joseph were warned about the birth of their son Jesus. They were informed by aliens – they were thought of as angels, so to speak.

This must be true. At least as true as the assertion that James the Just had dreadlocks! Read the whole article on PRAVDA’s English website.

Be sure to read the following related articles in the publication whose name means “Truth”!

*I put the Cyrillic here only because I want to show off that I took Russian in high school. Of course I only remember how to say “I don’t know”, “I don’t understand” and a few other choice phrases.

**Apparently, a trustworthy source for this article misspelled the French scholar’s name, André Lemaire. Perhaps “Lemer” simply reflects an English phonetic spelling of the Russian phonetic spelling of Lemaire. . . Or does it?

SBL/ETS papers on James by Mariam Kamell

Mariam Kamell, PhD candidate at St. Andrews (Scotland) and fellow blogger (theGreekGeek), has been kind enough to let James the Just host two papers that she presented at the recent SBL and ETS meetings in Washington D.C.:

Thank you Mariam, for letting James the Just host your papers.

Sayings of Jesus in the Epistle of James, by Dean Deppe still available…

Dean Deppe, professor at Calvin Theological Seminary still has a few hard bound copies of his dissertation for sale.

Deppe’s dissertation is on “The Sayings of Jesus in the Epistle of James” and it has been cited by scholars as one of the most important works on James’ use of Jesus’ teachings in the Epistle. For instance, Richard Bauckham notes:

Deppe’s very thorough study (unfortunately not easily accessible and so not used by most scholars writing subsequently) probably takes this method of approach to the relationship between James and the Gospels as far as it can be taken (see pg. 117 in “James and Jesus” [pgs. 100-137 in The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and His Mission; eds. B. Chilton & J. Neusner; Louisville, KY: W/JKP, 2001]).

When I first announced that Deppe’s book was available, I noticed that according to WorldCat, only 23 libraries owned the text. Since that post, at least 11 libraries have purchased copies for their own shelves. There are only a few copies left for purchase.

The details of publication are as follows:

The sayings of Jesus in the Epistle of James / Dean B. Deppe.
299 p. ; 26 cm.
Chelsea, Mich. : Bookcrafters, 1989.
Thesis completed at Vrije Universiteit te Amsterdam, 1989.
Open Worldcat Record

Dr. Deppe is offering copies of the dissertation for $25.00, plus $5.00 shipping & handling.

To order a copy, contact Dr. Deppe at ddeppe@calvinseminary.edu or send a note to:

Dean Deppe
1731 Ridgemoor SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Top Picks on James?

Recently a friend asked me to recommend a commentary, monograph and theology of the Epistle of James. Below is my response.

I highly recommend the commentaries by Luke Timothy Johnson (Anchor Bible) and Peter H. Davids (New International Greek Commentary on the New Testament). Patrick Hartin has also written a great commentary in the Sacra Pagina series.

As far as monographs go, I’d recommend Hartin’s Spirituality of Perfection: Faith in Action in the Letter of James. It’s a good read, and I think it captures the overall focus of James rather well. If you look at this book, it’s probably not worth getting the Hartin’s commentary (if you are looking at Davids and/or Johnson as well).

Luke Timothy Johnson has published a collection of articles that he has written on James (Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James). It’s a great companion to his commentary, and the studies have helped set the pace for James studies – I’d recommend it as a text book in conjunction with the commentary.

Bauckham’s monograph on James (James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage) is very good as well. It is not so much a commentary as an introduction/monograph (in the New Testament Readings series). He engages the genre of James and the letter’s relationship to the teachings of Jesus. He also interacts with Kierkegaard on James.

As far as James’ “theology” goes, there’s the work by Andrew Chester and Ralph P. Martin (The Theology of the Letters of James, Peter, and Jude) in the New Testament Theology series.

So, I guess I’ve listed more than I’ve been asked for – and not necessarily in a “neat order.” If I were forced to pick a monograph, commentary and theology, I think I’d go for the following:

What do other Jacobean scholars think? What are the top commentaries, monographs and theologies on the Epistle of James?

Context is King – Even in Movie Trailers

For those teachers out there who would stress to their students the importance of context when interpreting Scripture, the following re-edited movie trailers on YouTube could very well serve as excellent examples. When the context is removed, you can make the harmless seem harmful and the harmful seem harmless:

TEXT – CONTEXT = PRETEXT