James the Just Presents Applications of Torah
by Dr. David Friedman
with B.D. Friedman
Trade Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Messianic Jewish Publisher
Released: July 12, 2012
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description from Back Cover:
When we view Ya'acov (James) for who he was: a chief rabbi, a Torah scholar, a Bible commentator, and akin to a high court judge, then we can better understand the purpose of his book. One of the main thrusts of Ya'acov's teaching is encouraging the practical application of the Torah's teachings.
James the Just Presents Applications of Torah reads like 5 essays about James and the book of James that were complied together for this book. Some material was repeated in the different chapters, and the chapters had different focuses rather than building from one to the next. I could easily follow his overall points, but he jumped around some even within the chapters.
The author(s) set out to show that James was the chief rabbi of the messianic Jewish community in Jerusalem and what his position meant in terms of what we see recorded in Acts. He then showed how the book of James is likely a collection of James' teachings on certain portions of the Torah. He also explained the Hebrew background that helps clarify what James taught about faith and works.
I appreciate that the author admitted when he couldn't prove something rather than trying to pass it off as fact (as many authors do). I thought he did a good job of showing that these overall points about James and the origin of the book of James were reasonable and likely true. I was never able to fully understand some of his sub-points, though, like why he thought a vow automatically meant a Nazarite vow. His argument seemed to be "because some people where practicing this type of vow at that time." This seems rather random as other types of vows were also done at the time. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in the Jewish background to the New Testament.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.