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The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians
A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles
PAPERBACK; Published: 11/19/2007
ISBN: 978-0-8028-2488-2
394 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6.25 x 9.25

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This volume completes Ben Witherington's contributions to the set of Eerdmans socio-rhetorical commentaries on the New Testament.

In addition to the usual features of these commentaries, Witherington offers an innovative way of looking at Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon as interrelated documents written at different levels of moral discourse. Colossians is first-order moral discourse (the opening gambit), Ephesians is second-order moral discourse (what one says after the opening salvo to the same audience), and Philemon is third-order moral discourse (what one says to a personal friend or intimate). Witherington successfully analyzes these documents as examples of Asiatic rhetoric, explaining the differences in style from earlier Pauline documents. He further shows that Paul is deliberately engaging in the transformation of existing social institutions.

As always, Witherington's work is scholarly and engaging. With detailed "Closer Look" sections, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians is perfect for the libraries of clergy, biblical scholars, and seminaries.

REVIEWS
Scot McKnight
— North Park University
"Every time Ben Witherington writes a commentary, I buy it. Why? Because few can explain the rhetoric of a New Testament book as clearly as Ben, few can match the theological awareness of Ben, few canvass scholarship as completely as Ben, and fewer yet can combine rhetoric, theology, scholarship, and piety as well as Ben."
Darrell Bock
— Dallas Theological Seminary
"A solid commentary, a sane introduction, and a superior integration of these letters historically and culturally. The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians is Witherington at his best. Anyone with questions about how these letters function and who wrote them would do well to start and finish here."
Craig A. Evans
— Acadia Divinity College
"Ben Witherington's rhetorical approach to the letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians sheds important new light on questions that have puzzled and divided interpreters for generations. Fresh and insightful throughout, this reader-friendly commentary strongly supports Pauline authorship by clarifying the distinctive features of these interesting letters and the various circumstances of their respective recipients. Highly recommended!"
Matthew Levering
— Ave Maria University
"With a deeply pastoral heart and an equally deep mastery of historical-critical research into the first-century world, Ben Witherington offers a new commentary on Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians. Readers will discover here the riches that historical scholarship offers to insight into the realities of faith. Whether tackling difficult topics such as Paul on slavery, or defending Pauline authorship of Ephesians, or applying Paul's words to contemporary problems faced by Christians, Witherington consistently shows his love for Jesus Christ, whom he seeks to encounter in truth."
Todd D. Still
— Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
"A commentary that is at once traditional and novel, academic and accessible. . . All who turn to this socio-rhetorical treatment of Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians will return with fresh insight into and enhanced appreciation for these later Pauline letters."
Review of Biblical Literature
"A very welcome addition. . . . Eminently helpful and refreshing, especially for pastors and theological students."
The Journal for the Study of the New Testament
"This is a carefully written and readable commentary grappling with both rhetorical and social issues. . . . Well-worth reading."
Bibliotheca Sacra
"Witherington continues to produce fine commentaries that provide context-sensitive interpretations of New Testament books that meet needs of both scholars and other motivated Bible students."
Restoration Quarterly
"I commend this commentary to serious preachers, college students, and other readers interested in Pauline studies."

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