The Letter to Philemon

Joseph A. Fitzmyer

The Letter to Philemon
The Letter to Philemon

Book Details

Series: Anchor Yale Bible
Categories: Philemon
Tags: PastoralTechnical

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4.9 out of 5 based on 5 user ratings
Graham Ware July 12, 2016 5 5
Philemon is so often treated as an appendix to Colossians, and gets a few dozen pages at the back of another commentary which focuses much more attention and space to Colossians (obviously Colossians will require more pages given the difference in length, but I find many Philemon commentaries treat it as less important). The Anchor Bible editors made the welcome, but bold choice to have a separate volume dedicated to Philemon, and should be applauded for allowing this potent little letter to be handled well, and given full attention by a gifted scholar. Fitzmyer has published in the AB series several times, and so is able to work well in a format which isn't as user friendly as some others, so in this case the layout doesn't become distracting. The detailed intro gives a solid overview of the history of interpretation and the difficulties of reconstructing the situation the letter is addressing. Although AB is a more critical and academic series, this volume is still relevant for pastors. Most of the difficult issues of the historical situation is in the intro, so Fitzmyer's exegesis of the text doesn't get sidetracked. At just over 120 pages (before indexes) it feels like the right length for an in depth, but still usable treatment. Highly recommended.
Jim Rosscup September 20, 2008 4.5 5
danny September 18, 2008 5 5
Stand alone commentaries on Philemon are few and far between (Barth & Blanke being another), which has caused Fitzmyer's work to fall between the cracks. Fitzmyer offers some interesting thoughts regarding the occasion of the letter. He argues that Onesimus has not run away from Philemon, but rather is seeking Paul to intervene on his behalf, though the letter doesn't tell us what problem arose between Onesimus and Philemon. Paul is writing from an Ephesian imprisonment, probably a few years before he writes Colossians (where Onesimus is mentioned as a faithful brother). He also has an informative discussion on slavery in Paul's time. If you're working through Philemon or even studying the institution of slavery in NT times, you should definitely consult Fitzmyer.

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