Home > Culture > 1 Peter, Living Hope and James, The wisdom of the brother of Jesus

1 Peter, Living Hope and James, The wisdom of the brother of Jesus

1 Peter, Living Hope
By Paul Barnett
Aquila Press
RRP $19.95

James, The wisdom of the brother of Jesus
By John Dickson
Aquila Press
RRP $19.95

Reading the Bible Today Series

My first frustration with coming to these books is that nowhere did they self-define what they are trying to do.

I wasn’t quite sure what approach they were taking and felt that if I had come across them in a bookshop I’m not sure I would have purchased them.

Only if I had known the authors or the stable would I have known what type of books they were.

I found an online catalogue that helpfully describes the series as “non-technical commentaries devoted to presenting careful scholarship in a way that everyone can understand and enjoy.”

The books come from an Evangelical outlook generally associated with Sydney Anglicans (Barnett is former Anglican Bishop of North Sydney).

Before you dismiss the books, what I find excellent about their approach is that they take seriously what the Scriptures are trying to say in their original context, and what that might mean for us.

I appreciate this wrestling, as much of the church these days is quite biblically illiterate. While we might have other methods for understanding Scriptures, it seems to me that most of us have never understood the original biblical ideas that we are passing over.

Both authors come to Scripture as Scripture. They don’t address issues of text and source, etc but simply try to exegete the text.

This is not to suggest they are unaware of other issues; they make a decision on where they stand on the issue and get on with it.

While ‘non-technical’ commentaries, they are very rigorous and robust in their thinking.

They are unafraid to get into the Greek and at times would leave some people behind.

I found Dickson to be the more accessible author for the average person, with Barnett sometimes becoming quite ponderous.

Barnett seems to find it difficult to step out of his doctrinal stance.

This makes his book feel like a lecture where the answers are given, rather than a discussion or journey of discovery.

All in all these are good books to grab if you are preaching or leading a Bible study on James or 1 Peter, but don’t want to wade through all the academic issues, but want to seriously wrestle with the meaning of the texts in their contexts.

Reviewed by Rev Paul Clark, a minister in Burdekin