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Hebrews and James: 60 Bite-sized insights

Generally useful little commentary which may also help busy ministers in sermon preparation 

Hebrews and JamesHebrews and James. 60 Bite-sized insights. Straight to the Heart series
By Phil Moore
Monarch, £8.99
ISBN: 978-0-85721-668-7
Reviewed by: Pieter Lalleman

This short commentary appears in the series "Straight to the Heart of" in which Phil Moore has already published five volumes on the Old Testament and ten on the New Testament.

On four or five pages Moore explains a passage at a time, focussing on key elements of the message. His applications are sharp, as on Heb 13:4. Rather than really going "Straight to the Heart" of each passage, he normally begins with an anecdote. Moore provides many footnotes with extra information, often on Greek words or parallel passages. This means that the book's chapters are not exactly bite-sized! (Chapters in The People's Bible Commentary are never more than two facing pages.)

The result is a solid explanation of Scripture (NIV) which can be commended to all serious readers. Dosage: a chapter a day, not the entire book at once.

Having said this, I must add that Moore handles the structure of James and Hebrews in an unhelpful way. Unable to make sense (like many scholars) of the structure of James, he simply says that the letter is a collation of sermon highlights.

Hebrews he artificially cuts in three. He displays more certainty about the year in which Hebrews was written than is warranted. And despite the strong warnings in Hebrews, Moore believes in "once saved always saved", which makes him twist the meaning of 12:17 bizarrely.

Obviously Hebrews is critical of Judaism without Jesus, but Moore's tone towards the Jewish people sometimes lacks sensitivity and I disagree with his interpretation of Heb 12:22-24. One could also wish for more nuance: On James 5:14-16 he writes, "James tells us to expect supernatural healing to be normal, everyday Christianity. If we believe him, our churches will become like his."

Nonetheless, this is a useful little commentary which may also help busy ministers in sermon preparation.

Dr Pieter J. Lalleman teaches biblical studies at Spurgeon's College

Baptist Times, 04/03/2016
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