This volume completes Ben Witherington’s contributions to the set of Eerdmans sociorhetorical 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. In Philemon we see Paul using moral discourse in an intimate, personal setting. Colossians presents a vice/virtue list, along with a household code, while Ephesians focuses on community values. 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.
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.
—Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern 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.
—Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
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!
—Craig A. Evans, Payzant distinguished professor of New Testament studies, Acadia Divinity College
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.
—Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry, Jr. Chair of Theology, University of Saint Mary of the Lake
Ben Witherington III is professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. He received his MDiv degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a PhD from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. A prolific writer, he has twice won the Christianity Today best Biblical Studies book-of-the-year award. Among his other books are The Christology of Jesus and Jesus, Paul, and the End of the World and The Jesus Quest. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia.