This review, by R. Alan Culpepper, appeared in the Society of Biblical Literature's Review of Biblical Literature in July 2017.
RBL is available only by subscription at here, so I am only able to post "fair use" sections of it on this blog. I will include only the introduction and the conclusion of the review:
The aim of the Wiley Blackwell Bible Commentaries, according to the series preface, is to provide convenient access to the reception history of the Bible, book by book and chapter by chapter. The commentaries gather readings of the biblical text from the history of scholarship but also from such diverse sources as, to quote John Kloppenborg’s endorsement [of Gowler’s book] on the back cover of the volume, “the history of icons, mediaeval woodcuts and other representations, … monastic rules, hymnody, literature, political polemics, and much more.” Readers are therefore given an overview of the influence of the Bible on Western culture . . . .
David Gowler has taken this commission and carried it out in a breathtaking fashion as he has gathered and summarized readings of James “through the centuries.” For each section of the letter, Gowler addresses first the “Ancient Literary Context” and then “The Interpretations,” which generally follow a roughly chronological order: “Ancient and Medieval” followed by “Early Modern and Modern.” Gowler also makes explicit his ambitious hermeneutic. Appealing to Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogism, the principle that truth is not to be found in the understanding of an individual person but is the product of dialogic interaction in the collective search for truth, Gowler contends that the “meaning” of the Epistle of James “does not reside alone in the creative genius of its author; it exists in a relation between creator and contemplators” (4). In other words, it exists not in the text alone but in the readings and rereadings of the text through the centuries, in the dialogue of readers with the text and with each other. Interpreters therefore participate in the meaning of the Epistle. Accordingly, “voices that are sometimes silenced or marginalized receive a fair and equal hearing” (8). One of the collateral benefits of this approach is that “it makes explicit what in reality is inherent but usually implicit—that our own interpretations are incomplete without a dialogic response to the responses of those interpreters who have preceded us” (5) and whose readings have shaped our own.
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[Gowler’s] James through the Centuries treats readers to a symphony of readings drawn from many generations and cultures, while pioneering an expansive understanding of the task of interpretation and showcasing important as well as marginalized and novel interpretations. The sheer effort involved in this research and the access it gives to such a wide range of resources insure that Gowler’s work will continue to be a part of the dialogue about James for years to come.