Colossians and Ephesians
in Sacra Pagina
Pages 394 pages
Publisher Liturgical Press
This book appears in the following featured collections.
- Commentaries by Female Scholars by John Dyer
- Women and BIPOC by Jamie Davies
- New Testament Commentaries & Monographs by Princeton Theological Seminary
This review is for the Ephesians portion of the commentary. My review here is largely in agreement with that of Todd Price, below. As stated below, MacDonald should only be consulted in conjunction with another commentary. I did not find her arguments against Pauline authorship persuading, though I did think her thoughts on Ephesians' attitude toward outsiders and also visionary experiences worth considering.
My comments below are mainly about the half of the commentary on Ephesians. This is not, IMO, a truly exegetical commentary. For detailed exegesis, we still need to turn to Best, Lincoln and O'Brien. Although MacDonald does give her own translation and does have verse-by-verse notes, her emphasis is more on the overall theology of Ephesians. Just as I found it troubling that Pheme Perkins continually seeks to drive a wedge between Ephesians and the "genuine letters of Paul," I find the same false dichotomy in MacDonald. One example goes as follows: "It is being argued in this commentary that one of the major purposes of the work is to encourage greater isolation from the outside world and this represents a significant departure from the attitude to the world that is normally encouraged in the undisputed letters of Paul and in Colossians" (212). MacDonald footnotes Perkins often, though MacDonald appears to be more cautious in pointing out differences between Ephesians and "the genuine letters". Reading the commentary, I got the feeling that MacDonald too often relied on Perkins rather than doing her own original discovery. I remain unconvinced that baptism is "a central feature of both Colossians and Ephesians" (288). Aside from its specific mention in 4:6, it seems to me that it is not mentioned nor alluded to at all. MacDonald seems to see baptism all over the place in Ephesians, even perhaps in 2:1-6 and 4:8-10, which is anything but self-evident. Perhaps MacDonald's Catholic perspective, and my Anabaptist perspective, skew our understanding in opposite directions. But it still appears to me that exegetically, it has not been proven that baptism is a major issue in Ephesians, nor that it was a baptism homily or contains baptism liturgy. On a more positive note, her explanation of Ephesians strategies for encouraging unity on 297 (commenting on 4:1-6) are outstanding. She is right on there. Also, her bibliographies at the end of each section are very helpful in chasing down the appropriate secondary literature on subjects germane to that section. IMHO, this commentary deserves a quick reading alongside the more standard--dare I say, more trustworthy--works of Lincoln, Best and O'Brien, but no more than that. [Full Review]