“This is a small book, and we have been unable to procure it. Orme only mentions it upon the authority of [Robert] Watt’s Bibliotheca. It is certain to be good, for Durham is always admirable.”
?Charles Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries
The great admirer of Puritan commentaries was correct on all counts. James Durham’s Lectures on the Book of Job was published from a manuscript in 1759, one hundred years after his death, in what must be one of the rarest Puritan commentaries to obtain in an original edition. It was probably prepared for the press by Robert Wodrow, the son of the famous historian of the same name, who collected a massive number of manuscripts, though the manuscript on Job is not known to be surviving at this time. Often Puritan commentaries were huge productions, like Joseph Caryl’s mammoth twelve volumes on Job. Yet Durham’s work is compact, with a few pages of exposition and comment, closing with a few pages of practical observations. This makes the work perfectly suitable for private and family devotions. And even though Spurgeon had not seen Durham’s commentary, it was an astute decision to include his above entry in the large print reserved for those commentaries he highly recommended. Dickson’s impression of Durham’s preaching generally was that, as paraphrased by the elder Wodrow, while it is not known for turns of phrase, it is filled with “much good and great matter,” as are any of his works. After 1759, this work was not reprinted again until the Naphtali Press edition of 1995 (and reprinted 2003). This newly revised edition has been carefully compared again to the original and corrected and updated.
James Durham (1622?1658) served as minister at Black Friars church in Glasgow, a chaplain to King Charles II, and a minister at the Inner Kirk of the cathedral in Glasgow. Known for his piety, wisdom, and scholarship, Durham stands as one of the great Scottish Presbyterians of the seventeenth century.