The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon
Pages 480 pages
This book appears in the following featured collections.
Moo is recognized widely as an expert on Romans, and here he offers his detailed exposition of Colossians. [Full Review]
Standard commentary by preeminent evangelical Pauline scholar. [Full Review]
Moo’s commentary is quite recent (2008) and, therefore, reviews have not yet caught up to it. However, Keith Mathison penned a short review while making his way through and said, “If anyone is going to give O’Brien a run for his money, it is Moo. Moo has the advantage of having written in the Pillar series–a much more reader-friendly series than the WBC. His commentary is also able to take into consideration studies published since 1987.” He places it as a close second behind O’Brien. I wouldn’t be surprised if before long, as reviews catch up, if I need to bump it up as well. [Full Review]
Moo’s commentary is fairly traditional with respect to introductory matters (Paul wrote the letter during his Roman imprisonment). He deals with objections to Paul as the author, primarily perceived differences in theology when Colossians is compared with Romans, Corinthians and Galatians. The main problem with non-Pauline authorship, for Moo, is that he is not comfortable with pseudepigraphical authorship. It would be quite remarkable that the author would prohibit lying in 3:9 then claim to be Paul! With respect to the opponent, Moo engages Dunn’s arguments that Paul has a “standard Judaism” in mind. The fact that Colossians lacks the sort of engagement of the Hebrew Bible found in Galatians is a good argument that the opponents are not Judaizers in the Galatians-sense of the word. Moo prefers to see a kind of syncretic philosophy behind the opponents, mixing Judaism and mysticism. The body of the commentary is based on the English text (various translations are compared), Greek words appear transliterated. Moo engages a wide range of scholarship, including Dunn and Wright. The result is a very useful commentary for a pastor or teacher preparing to present Colossians to their congregations. [Full Review]
Very thorough and careful exegesis of the text with good attention paid to structure and often discusses which English translations have done the best job of capturing the sense of a verse. Moo will often interact with a variety of alternative views before selecting his desired option. An ideal resource for those preaching on these books. [Full Review]
My favorite commentary, without question, was Doug Moo's in the Pillar series. I originally read through it about a year ago and I wasn't overly impressed. This time around, when I really dug into it, I found it to be extremely helpful. One thing I liked was that he confined most of his discussion on the issue of slavery to the introduction. This is a good move because the issue of slavery is not a primary in Philemon. His conclusions on slavery also were more satisfying than those of the other commentators that I read. In the commentary proper Moo does an excellent job of following the argument and discerning Paul's rhetorical strategy. You can tell that he is a very seasoned interpreter of Paul, and his experience is a huge plus. His introductions to each section, which are prior to the verse by verse notes also are top notch. I also found this commentary to be a little more advanced than some in the Pillar series. Moo works through the text, very methodically, verse by verse, phrase by phrase, explaining in a very fair manner the different exegetical possibilities. His conclusions are sound and well supported. For most pastors, who have an average grasp of Greek, Moo's commentary is at just the right level of thoroughness and difficulty. It will be a great aid in preaching or teaching through the text of Philemon. 5 stars out of 5. [Full Review]
The publication of any new commentary by Douglas Moo is an event. His commentary on Romans is a classic. His commentaries on other books are all outstanding. I was very excited, therefore, to see this new commentary on Colossians and Philemon. What I have read so far has been excellent. If anyone is going to give O'Brien a run for his money, it is Moo. Moo has the advantage of having written in the Pillar series -- a much more reader-friendly series than the WBC. His commentary is also able to take into consideration studies published since 1987. I am placing it in a close second place to O'Brien at this point merely because I have not finished it yet. [Full Review]
This commentary, is much like his commentary on James. Moo methodically goes through the text letting you know various alternatives that people have taken in interpreting the text. He does of course add his thoughts and reasons on which view he thinks is best. I was glad to start studying Colossians just as his book came out as I found his James commentary very useful. But I must say that in the case of Colossians, I rarely gained much insight from this commentary. Indeed, I usually found myself questioning his reasoning and conclusions. I definitely felt other commentaries such as Wright, Dunn, Garland, Witherington, and Thompson all had a much better grasp on what Paul was saying. I often found myself reading Moo as he dismissed alternative viewpoints saying to myself things like, “But you did not consider ... That does not follow...” Some of the problem comes from the fact that Moo disagrees with those who see the controversy as mainly stemming from Jewish sources. He follows Arnold in thinking that the “opponents” were coming from a pagan mystery religion. We are I guess to imagine a pagan mystery religion where many Gentiles have now mixed in many Jewish practices (perhaps even circumcision and Sabbath). Paul, though he speaks of circumcision with these Gentiles, is mainly doing so as a metaphor for killing the flesh - as if Gentiles would readily have thought that circumcision was a great metaphor for just that. Moo does not offer much in terms of devotional help or practical application. That is not necessarily a fault of the commentary as my guess is he would rather leave that work to the pastor. But I did sometimes feel like I was just laboring through arguments about Greek grammar to come up with a right translation. But in all the details of Greek grammar, Moo really has missed the bigger picture of Paul's thoughts. Though I like the clear and humble way that Moo writes commentaries, in this case I found myself referring to other commentaries first.