Dr. William Varner’s To Love God and to Love Others: A Devotional Commentary on James is now available on Pre-Pub. I had the honor of sitting down with Dr. Varner at this year’s Evangelical Theological Society’s meeting in San Francisco to ask him a few questions about his new commentary on James.
Logos: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions Dr. Varner. Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Dr. Varner: I was saved at the age of 17, did my undergraduate work at Bob Jones University, and then went on to receive my M.Div. and Th.M. (NT) at Biblical Seminary in PA. Along the way I also picked up an M.A. in Judaic studies at Dropsie College and an Ed.D. in theological education from Temple University. I teach at the Master’s College in Santa Clarita and I also pastor the Sojourners Fellowship at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.
Logos: How did this devotional commentary on James come to fruition?
Dr. Varner: Last winter I published a technical commentary on the Greek text of James. It was aimed at scholars and developed a discourse analysis perspective on the book. By the way, it is also available through Logos! The flock of three hundred folks that I pastor was mostly unable to benefit from the commentary due to its technical, linguistic nature. So I began posting on my blog some practical comments on James based on my research, but not expressing the ideas in technical language. I then edited those posts, added some new material, and also added a personal prayer after each section. Logos liked the idea and the rest is history.
Logos: What makes To Love God and to Love Others different from traditional commentaries on James?
Dr. Varner: Only that I try to work harder at applying the practical message of James even more than good traditional commentaries. Pastors and teachers can also utilize the comments since they are presented in outline “sermonic” form. Because James uses so much of the teaching of Jesus, it was easy to come up with the title, To Love God and Others, since Jesus uses such a “creed” to summarize the OT (Matt 22:37-39). James does the same, with a strong dose of our horizontal love to others. But he does not neglect our vertical love to God either. There is more theology in James than many realize. He is not just a moralist. His ethics are theologically grounded.
Logos: How can one incorporate your devotional commentary into their daily Bible study?
Dr. Varner: The reader can work through the sections of James one at a time, say six days a week, and finish the book in about five weeks. I have included the entire English text of James, so you can read a passage of 4-5 verses, and then read my devotional comments. Finally—and this is something that a commentary rarely does—I append a brief personal prayer at the end of each section where I try to formulate the truths in that passage into the petitions of the prayer. I try to follow the old three step approach: observe, interpret, apply.
Logos: Do you have any other writings on James forthcoming?
Dr. Varner: I am glad you asked. I am presently finishing work on another exegetical commentary on James, to be included in the series called the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. It is about twice as long as the discourse commentary that I previously mentioned and probably 10 times longer than the devotional commentary. I might add that Logos is sponsoring the publication of this significant set of commentaries on the entire Bible. I think that mine will be the second New Testament volume to appear.
Logos: Thanks Dr. Varner for taking the time to answer some questions.
If you want to get To Love God and to Love Others: A Devotional Commentary at the amazing Pre-Pub price of $6.95 make sure you place your order soon.