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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at William Varner’s Commentary on James

WilliamVarnerToday’s guest post is from Willam Varner, author of the volume on James in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. For the last 18 years, Varner has been a professor at The Master’s College and a pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.

The origins of the volume

In 2008, I was invited by Stanley Porter to write a commentary on James from the perspective of discourse analysis. The project fell through, but when I finished writing, a small publisher named Kress Publications picked it up. It was a 200-page linguistic commentary that identified the peak of the book (3:13–18) and used the bipolar description of wisdom (as either from above or from below) as the book’s metatheme, conveyed by each individual paragraph.

Building on my work in that smaller commentary, I wrote the much larger EEC commentary along traditional exegetical lines.

James: passage by passage

james-evangelical-exegetical-commentaryWhat’s unique about the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary is how each commentary is structured. In my own commentary, the analysis of each pericope follows the same steps. First I present the Greek text from the NA28, taking careful note of every textual variant. Next, I offer a translation and observe how 12 different English versions, from Tyndale through the NIV11, handle the translations. Then I interpret each verse phrase by phrase, trying to interact with what other commentators have said. After that, I offer a sentence-flow analysis of the pericope, something that many commentators omit in their effort to only discuss individual words.

Having analyzed the passage from the inside out, I look at the larger biblical-theological issues in the passage and, in a separate section, draw out the practical life issues and suggest one or two homiletical outlines as sermon ideas. The final section is a bibliography of journal articles for interested readers—they go deeper into some of the passage’s most interesting issues.

As you can see, I try to leave no leaf unturned—that’s probably why the commentary is nearly 650 pages long! I think the greatest compliment I’ve received on the book was when Scot McKnight wrote that “if you have Varner’s commentary you probably won’t need another one.” Even recognizing his overstatement, I think he was saying that I have tried to offer all that can be said about each pericope of James.

I would be profoundly grateful if the commentary could be useful to scholars, students, and pastors.

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Check out the new print edition of Willam Varner’s James: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary today, and—for the best deal—pick up the entire Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series!

3 Reasons Logos 5 Is a Smart Investment

15% Off Logos 5!You know all about the benefits of studying in Logos, with its powerful research tools and enormous libraries. What you might not know, though, is that simply owning Logos books pays dividends, too.

Here are three reasons why your Logos 5 library is a smart investment:

1. Logos books last

Books have traditionally been perishable, and their loss irreversible—when you lose or destroy a print volume, your only option is buying a new one. With Logos, though, your library is secure. Lost your laptop? Once you replace it, just pull down new files from the Logos servers. (This is one reason Logos is such a favorite among those serving in the mission field.)

The reason it’s so easy to recover lost books is that you own the content itself, not just a given file or edition. And the really cool part is that this means your library is yours no matter how the software changes. Logos’ president and CEO, Bob Pritchett, explains it like this:

“When music went from vinyl to cassettes to CDs, you had to repurchase the album each time. But we aren’t selling you ‘today’s format’—we’re selling an electronic license. With Logos, it’s as if you’re provided the song free on cassette, CD, and then digital download, all because of your original vinyl purchase.”

A good library is one of the most important things you can own: like education in general, it’s an investment in growth, truth, and intellectual rigor. Logos keeps that investment safe. (You can even bequeath your library—a reflection of yourself—to a loved one.)

2. You get free updates behind the scenes

One of the biggest benefits to owning Logos content is that you get free updates and improvements all the time, not just when we change the software engine. Not long ago, for example, we updated the Word Biblical Commentary: most dramatically, we added 3,212 new links and fixed 9,939 typos. The WBC isn’t an edge case; we update thousands of products a year. (In fact, there’s an entire team dedicated to updates.) And it’s all free and behind the scenes—you get your updates automatically.

With Logos 5, you’re investing in content from a company that invests in improvement every day.

3. Your books survive your most intrusive notes

In the old days, the pre-Logos days, I owned two copies of most of my favorite books. I never planned it that way. I would start with one and then mark it up more and more. Before long, I could barely read the book behind all the marginalia, most of which made sense only within the context of a certain class, assignment, or interpretive angle. I certainly couldn’t feel like I was connecting directly with the author—all the notes were in the way. So I’d go out and buy another copy for pleasure reading.

Of course, notes and highlighting are a wonderful thing: they’re one of the best ways to engage with the text and take an active hand in interpretation. But sometimes you want them invisible, with the text front and center. The beauty of the Logos format is that you can delete notes and toggle visibility on and off. You can also choose from a variety of highlighting styles, and even search within your notes—if you’ve ever written a long paper, you know how amazing this is.

For serious scholars and lifelong students of the Bible, there’s just no better format for active reading. The obvious benefit is that you can take better notes and find them faster. The more subtle benefit is that you can annotate your books for your entire life without compromising the quality of the text.

Upgrade your library for the best price

During the Logos 5 upgrade sale, you can get a custom upgrade discount on the Logos 5 base package you really want. First, you’ll get a Dynamic Pricing discount based on your current library, so you won’t pay twice for the books you already own. Then you’ll get a special upgrade discount, calculated just for you.

The Custom Upgrade Discount Calculator has your discount calculated and ready to go: sign in at Logos.com/Upgrade and take a look. Why not learn how much you’ll save?

Get equipped for a lifetime of reading and study. Upgrade your base package today.

 
P.S. Don’t own Logos 5 yet? For just a little while, you can get 15% off a new base package.

Last Chance: Get 20%+ Off the Reformed Expository Commentary

reformed-expository-commentaryFor only six more days, you can pre-order the Reformed Expository Commentary Series for 21% off!

Preaching through the Bible can be challenging, and sermon prep can be time-consuming. Use the Reformed Expository Commentary to aid your research and you’ll find that much of the work is done for you. You’ll get thorough, clear expositions of Scripture, verse by verse.

Scholarly yet easy to understand

This Reformed series focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting. Created for pastors, Bible teachers, and anyone who wants substantive devotional materials, these expositions are rigorous but clear.

Used by pastors around the globe, the series has received glowing reviews:

“Some commentaries lose the forest for the trees, and others the trees for the forest. This series promises to be both exegetically sensitive and theologically faithful.”
Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC

“A rare blend of insightful exegesis and discerning application. What’s more, you’ll find the glories of Christ shining through texts that can otherwise appear obscure and irrelevant.”
—C.J. Mahaney, president, Sovereign Grace Ministries

“Those of us who regularly preach need commentaries that provide the best biblical scholarship and that also understand the challenges of today’s pastorate. This series ably speaks to both needs.”
Bryan Chapell, distinguished professor of preaching, Knox Theological Seminary

You only have a few days left to save!

The Reformed Expository Commentary Series ships next week—after that, the price will go up.

The series helps you understand even the most difficult passages: if you’re looking to grow in your understanding of Scripture, it’s a valuable addition to your library.

Get 21% off—pre-order the Reformed Expository Commentary Series today!

The Story of Jacob, Designed for Digital

Jacob’s story is a roller-coaster ride filled with twists and turns. Through times of blessing and hardship alike, Jacob struggled to recognize God’s presence—and we can relate. We, too, go through seasons when we feel like God is so far away. But even in these trying times, God remains with us, just as he remained with Jacob.

Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence is Bible study like you’ve never known before. You’ll walk through life with Jacob and his family, learning how their story is like yours. With this all-in-one curriculum, your congregation or small group will share in the discovery of new and deeper insights into this familiar story. You’ll learn—together—how Jacob’s life lessons are relevant today.

Designed for digital

jacob-discerning-gods-presence-complete-church-curriculum-for-leaders-and-pastorsJacob: Discerning God’s Presence is part of the Studies in Faithful Living Series, which is designed for digital from the ground up. These resources maximize efficiency, making preparation much easier for pastors and small group leaders. And, while Jacob’s story is well known, your study will be fresh and timely. Everyone in your congregation or small group will benefit from the richness of content you’ve come to expect from Logos.

The complete church curriculum includes a leader’s guide that walks through each chapter with lesson plans and handouts for leading your Bible studies and small groups. Sermon outlines and professionally designed media resources enable you to share Jacob’s story with your entire church.

If you’re looking to learn from Jacob’s life on your own, the individual version includes infographics, maps, thought-provoking response questions, Bible study tips, an annotated reading list, and printable handouts.

Bid now!

Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence is on Community Pricing at over half off its regular price. If enough bids come in, we can offer this all-in-one curriculum at a very low price for the foreseeable future. But to get there, we need more bidders—and that’s where you come in.

Place your bid on Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence today!

Get 15% Off a Massive, Interconnected Library

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Logos 5 is more than just a collection of books. It’s a massive, interconnected library paired with tools and features that you can’t find anywhere else.

Why Logos books are so valuable

Think of it this way: the value of a book by itself (physical or digital) is purely in the information it carries. But when you link two books together—a link between a citation and the book it cites, a Greek text that scrolls in sync with the English translation—you increase the value of each. This means the whole of your library is exponentially more valuable than the sum of its parts. We call this the “Network Effect.”Library Connections

When you buy a base package, you get a library that’s integrated with data, smart tools, and a clean, fast interface to access everything. All your books are interconnected, which means more cross-references between books, more valuable original-language data, and more relevant results in the reports you run—the Passage Guide, Exegetical Guide, Bible Word Study, and more.

Not only do Logos books create an extensive network of information—they make up a growing ecosystem of platforms tying Bible study together. You can use your Logos library for study, discuss rich passages with your Faithlife community, or easily share quotes and passages with your congregation via Proclaim.

Take 15% off a new base package

When it comes to putting together an interconnected library of smart books, a base package is the best place to start.

Right now, you can get a new base package for 15% off—get yours today!

Time’s Running Out: Get 89% Off the Pre-Summer Pack!

Get 89% Off the Pre-Summer PackThe limited-time Pre-Summer Pack is an extraordinary deal. It retails at $1,382.54, but right now, you can get it for only $149.95—that’s 89% off, or more than $1,232.00 in savings! At under $3 per book, it’s the perfect way to get the titles you’ve been wanting—and then some.

But it won’t be around for long: time’s running out!

Save even more

At 89% off, the Pre-Summer Pack is an incredible value, but that’s actually the minimum you’ll save. With Dynamic Pricing, you’ll get a custom ownership discount based on your current library—if you already own some of these books, your price could be even lower.

Trusted authors and resources

With the Pre-Summer Pack, you’ll strengthen your Logos library with titles from James D.G. Dunn, Stanley Porter, John Polkinghorne, Martin Hengel, I. Howard Marshall, and many others. You’ll get top resources like The Beauty of Holiness, Black’s New Testament Commentary: Galatians, and New Testament Interpretation and Methods.

Plus, with Logos, the more variety in your library, the more comprehensive your research. As your library grows, so does the value of each individual book. Your Passage Guide, topic, or phrase searches return more valuable content, and you find more of the life-changing insights you’re looking for in your biblical studies.

Don’t miss your chance!

For only $149.95, you can round out your library with an enormous bundle that, at any other time, would cost you over $1,382.00. And if you already have some of these resources, you’ll get a custom ownership discount—this means potential savings on top of the 89%+ you’re already taking off!

This deal won’t be around for long. Don’t miss out—get it today!

How Your Current Library Gets You a Bigger Discount

Logos5Upgrade_230x230Some of you have been using Logos for years and years, across multiple versions. You’ve acquired a hefty library. You’re studying, say, a Logos 4 base package with all your favorite add-on resources. What happens when you upgrade to a Logos 5 base package?

Simple: you keep all your existing books, and you add a huge number of new books at a steep discount. You get new resources, interconnected with the rest of your library, and you get Logos 5′s powerful study tools. When you upgrade to Logos 5, your whole library gets better.

Your personal discount

Logos-5Having a large Logos library also works in your favor when it comes to upgrading from one Logos 5 base package to another. Not only do your existing books add to the power of Logos 5—they can also earn you an awesome discount. You only need to own a single resource included in a given base package to qualify for Dynamic Pricing. Just visit the Logos 5 upgrade page, log in, and discover your custom upgrade discount—it can’t hurt to find out!

Don’t forget that you can also take advantage of interest-free payment plans to spread out your payments over up to 24 months. This means you can pick up the base package you really want, lock in your custom discount, and begin using your new library immediately. Then you can spread out the costs in several easy payments!

When it comes to saving money on an upgrade, your existing library is one of your greatest assets. If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to upgrade to Logos 5, this is it. We won’t be offering upgrade discounts forever—check out your custom discount and upgrade now!

Free Book: What’s in the Word by Ben Witherington III

witw1We’ve teamed up with Baylor University Press to give you Ben Witherington III’s What’s in the Word: Rethinking the Socio-Rhetorical Character of the New Testament for free! Just use coupon code BW3BAYLOR to get your copy.

Understand Scripture in context

What’s in the Word, written in Witherington’s usual clear, clever style, is a collection of essays on topics like “oral texts,” pseudepigrapha, New Testament word studies in light of their socio-rhetorical backgrounds, and more. Preachers and teachers will especially appreciate how Witherington’s work helps establish exegetical study historically.

James D.G. Dunn once said that the autonomy of the biblical text is an illusion, and that Scripture will always be read in a context, whether modern or historical. In What’s in the Word, Witherington explains how the recognition of the oral and socio-rhetorical character of the New Testament and its environment necessitates a change in how we read the New Testament literature.

Use coupon code BW3BAYLOR through June 16 to get What’s in the Word for free!

P.S. Through June 16, you can also enter to win the entire Ben Witherington III Collection. Head over to the Logos Academic blog and enter to win before it’s too late!

New: Learning from Your Favorite Preachers Just Got Easier

BlogIMG_400x400We’re thrilled to announce a brand-new tool in Logos 5: the Sermon Finder, which connects you to sermons on any given passage.

Simply search the Passage Guide for a passage or verse: the Sermon Finder pulls results from your sermon archives and presents them in an elegant list of clickable links. You can quickly discover how specific Bible verses inspired your favorite pastor’s sermons, and then enrich your own sermons with their insights.

How is this different from before? Whereas the standard search tool finds every place a preacher mentions a Bible passage, the Sermon Finder brings you only the complete sermons that cover the passage you’re studying.

For example, are you curious how John Piper tackled how “the Word was made flesh” in John 1? Or how Tim Keller addressed fanaticism in Mark 13:24–37? All you need to do is a simple Passage Guide search: you’ll have access to every relevant sermon preached by your favorite pastors on the verse you’re studying. In short, Sermon Finder makes your sermon libraries even more powerful and accessible.

Get 60% off the Classic Sermon Library Builder—that’s only 7 cents a sermon!

classic-sermon-library-builderFor a limited time, you can get 60% off the new 100-volume Classic Sermon Library Builder. For just $2 a volume, you can enrich your sermons, research papers, and personal study with insights from some of the world’s most respected pastors—that works out to just 7 cents a sermon!

You’ll get over 2,600 sermons from leading pastors:

  • John Wesley
  • R.A. Torrey
  • D.L. Moody
  • George Whitefield
  • And others

For just $199.95, pick up the Classic Sermon Library Builder today! But hurry—this deal ends June 30.

The best deals on new sermon libraries

Want to make your sermon library even more powerful? You’ll get the best deal on new sermon archives with Logos Pre-Pub. Right now, for instance, you can pre-order the D.A. Carson Sermon Archive and get 553 of Carson’s sermons for just $89.95—that’s 36% off!

Here are a few other Pre-Pubs you don’t want to miss:

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Don’t have Logos 5? Now’s the time to upgrade. For a limited time, you can get triple discounts on a Logos 5 upgrade and build more compelling sermons, faster. Discover your custom upgrade discount, and upgrade today!

3 Little-Read Books That Changed the World

lucretiusA book’s influence tends to correspond to how widely it’s read: the most influential books usually speak to a lot of people. Certain books, though, manage to shape the culture without enjoying a huge readership. Today we’ll be looking at three: Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, Herodotus’ The Persian Wars, and James Joyce’s Ulysses.

1. On the Nature of Things

Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things is a book-length poem that articulates the Epicurean worldview: in short, that the universe is made of atoms, that there is no afterlife, that the gods don’t intervene in (or concern themselves with) human affairs, and that the best way to live is that which minimizes pain and maximizes pleasure. From the third century AD to AD 1417, Epicureanism was almost entirely forgotten.

Then an especially persistent book hunter came across a manuscript of On the Nature of Things, and people started reading it again. Machiavelli personally copied out the whole manuscript by hand. Thomas More alluded to it in Utopia. Montaigne quoted it outright—almost 100 times. The list of readers also includes Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne, Bacon, Ben Jonson, Newton, and Thomas Jefferson, who not only owned five Latin editions but even described himself as an Epicurean. Lucretius’ Epicurean worldview, so long forgotten, was back in style.

Since then, much of the book has been pushed back out of style by modern science: we believe in atoms not thanks to it, but thanks to people like Niels Bohr. On the Nature of Things is once again a little-read book. But it’s worth your time, because—as Stephen Greenblatt, the famous humanities scholar, argues—it’s one of the texts that brought about the Renaissance. Lucretius emphasized beauty, and so did da Vinci and Michelangelo. Lucretius argued against the fear of death, and so did Montaigne. Epicureanism has little in common with Christianity, but that’s no reason not to know it well, especially in its capacity as a catalyst for Renaissance thought.

We’re building a Noet edition of On the Nature of Things, and it’s still in Community Pricing: for just a little while, you can pick it up for a mere $5.

Join Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson: for just $5, get to know this forgotten piece of history.

2. The Persian Wars

herodotus-the-persian-warsHerodotus’ The Persian Wars, written in the fifth century BC, seems impossibly remote: it describes the rise of the Persian Empire and the history and cultural background of Scythia and Egypt. This isn’t (directly) Christian history, and it seems far too distant to still be relevant—what’s the point?

Herodotus is worth reading because he introduced the very notion of history as we know it: a unified narrative of cause and effect. No less a figure than Cicero, in fact, called him the “father of history.”

In volume 51 of the Harvard Classics, George H. Chase writes that “what distinguishes [Herodotus] from his predecessors and gives him a unique place in the history of literature is the fact that he was the first writer to undertake the narration of a series of events of world-wide importance upon a comprehensive plan and to trace in those events the relations of cause and effect.” Reginald Macan adds, “There is, indeed, no ancient historian with whom Herodotus need fear comparison. . . . in the larger view of history, which embraces every experience of humanity [and] treats no aspect of human life as common or unclean . . . Herodotus keeps his rank as the premier historian of antiquity.”

Good news—Herodotus is on Community Pricing, and the current bid is only $4. You’re studying history as a series of ancient events; it’s worth studying history as a concept, too. Learn where our notion of history comes from: place your bid on Herodotus’ The Persian Wars.

3. Ulysses

select-works-of-james-joyceA strange fate: James Joyce’s greatest novel, a work of tremendous formal innovation, enjoys undeniable fame; its most famous attribute is its lack of readers. Ulysses recasts Homer’s Odyssey as a single day in the life of Leopold Bloom, much of it narrated in the style we now know as stream of consciousness.

The book’s next-most-famous attribute is its astonishing language. Jorge Luis Borges writes,

“Like Shakespeare, like Quevedo, like Goethe, like no other writer, Joyce is less a man of letters than a literature. And, incredibly, he is a literature within the compass of a single volume. His writing is intense, as Goethe’s never was; it is delicate, a virtue whose existence Quevedo did not suspect. I (like the rest of the universe) have not read [the whole of] Ulysses, but I read and happily reread certain scenes . . . . [Joyce] enjoyed a gift for words, a felicitous verbal omnipotence.”

The book certainly isn’t Christian, but that’s what your Logos 5 base package is for. Ulysses is for a different sort of study: the study of our time’s language and thought. If you’re interested in words, Ulysses offers a fascinating example of what’s possible—one that you, like Borges, can begin appreciating right away. If you’re interested in engaging the culture, Ulysses is a cipher of modern thought: it reflects modernity’s emphasis on language and on self, and it inspired some of the twentieth century’s most innovative art.

See what all the fuss is about: pick up Ulysses and more with Noet’s Select Works of James Joyce collection.

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P.S. Lucretius and Herodotus are both on Community Pricing, but Lucretius is moving especially fast: the price will be going up very soon. On the Nature of Things helps you understand not only ancient times but also the Renaissance—for the price of a cup of coffee, it’s a steal. Place your bid right now for just $5!

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