Authorship and Origin:

The author of this book identifies himself as James. But no other clues are clearly given as to who this particular James was. The traditional view is that this was the brother of Jesus and the leader of the Jerusalem church. This James was in contact with Paul and might have written to correct a false view of Paul's teachings on faith and works. Many scholars however doubt that this James originally authored this book as it is. The letter does not seem to have been known until the close of the 2nd century, and the author does not speak as if he had a close relationship with Jesus. The author futher uses excellent Greek and draws from Hellenistic and Jewish sources for authority and teachings as opposed to Jesus alone. Therefore these scholars consider the book of James to be a compilation of teachings sent out to the churches under the name of James or from the patriarchal authority of the church at Jerusalem. Based on these assumptions, the letter may have been written around 100 - 125 A.D..

Overview and Significant sections

The book, which is really more of a sermon than a letter, is written to all Christians, not just one locale or church as many of the other New Testament letters are. It was written to the Christians who claim to believe, but do not act like it, who blame God for their temptations, and left strife go unchecked. The teachings presented here are moralistic instructions gathered from Jesus teachings, but also from Jewish and Greek traditions.

This book was not in the early canons of the New Testament. The first to include it was Origen at the close of the second century. But the book is very popular due to it down-to-earth teachings, and there is much to learn from it. The book should not be considered as profound theology, but rather moral exhortations for Christian living.

Significant sections:

For more detailed study:
Read Chapter 1. (the entire book is available here.)
The Concise Matthew Henry Commentary on this book.
bible.org study of this book.
the World Wide Study Bible has Dictionary, Commentary, Scripture and sermons available on this book.