Book Review: James the Just
Author: Dr. David Friedman
Publisher: Messianic Jewish Publishers ISBN: 9781936716449
This is a short book, but very dense; this is to say, it might not be for everybody. When I was first offered this book for review, I was excited and looked forward to learning more about the Jewish perspective on the writings of James or Ya’akov from the collection of Scripture known as the New Testament. My goal in ordering this book was to hopefully learn more about the actual intent of these writings and perhaps understand more clearly, what may get lost in English interpretation.
Truthfully, there are some gems to be gleaned from this little book, but it was a difficult and cumbersome read for me. I’m not a Biblical languages scholar, nor am I a Biblical history expert; consequently, I struggled with finding a rhythm while reading through James the Just. There are many references to the original languages of Hebrew and Greek throughout the texts; likewise, there are quite a few transliterations of the texts that also added to the slowing down of my reading. These details contributed to my inability to digest approximately thirty to forty percent of the book. It is for this reason that I refer to the “mining of gems.” It was, in a very real sense, my experience. I would read, skim, read, skim… find a nugget that piqued my interest and then try to understand and polish up the nugget I had found. The ultimate end of this experience was that it made my level of enjoyment minimal; I felt my reading was more inclined toward work than anything else.
The book is well-annotated, complete with bibliography, reference tables, endnotes, and glossary. My experience will likely not be the average experience. I expect that most persons ordering this book will have a better background with the original languages and the socio-political history of the Jewish people. This is a very academic book and not something easily understood by the average Bible student.
As I have already said, there are some wonderful gems to be gleaned in this book. I particularly enjoyed chapter five, which seemed most like a commentary for me. I do caution you, before you order, evaluate what your purposes and expectations are for this book.