I’m a pastor and Bible college professor and have greatly enjoyed this commentary series because it balances theological depth with the need to help preachers prepare sermons. It provides exegetical help, as well as ideas for sermon content.
The main strength of this volume is the depth of material and insight into each preaching passage. You will get 40-50 pages of detailed explanation for each passage, as Spencer offers word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase commentary. She engages with the latest scholarship, but also shows the maturity of thought that comes from working with and reflecting on the text for many years. The reader benefits from the fruit of her labor.
There are two weaknesses of the volume. One is the fact that it breaks up the book of James into just five large passages. Someone preaching through the book would likely break it up into 10-14 preaching units. It would be more helpful to the preacher if the commentary was organized according to likely preaching pericopes. This would help the preacher more easily access the theological points of the smaller passages.
Another weakness for the preacher is how heavily weighted it is toward exegetical depth versus homiletical help. This is a challenge for any commentary that tries to engage in both. While there are dozens of pages of exegetical analysis for each of the larger passages, there are only a few pages with homiletical insights.
Those weaknesses should not keep someone from this great commentary. It will be the first one I consult when preaching from James and I will likely require it for my preaching classes where the students preach from James.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.