The Epistles to Colossians and to Philemon (NIGNT) by Dunn

This volume in the New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series is by famous scholar James D. G. Dunn. He is, perhaps, most famous for being one of the main proponents of the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). While I do not find that perspective plausible, I do appreciate the clarity with which Mr. Dunn explained his position. As you might imagine, that perspective does sway the commentary on Colossians and Philemon. If you would agree with me that that perspective might be the flaw of this commentary, then the quality of writing found here that is often absent in other such works is its strength. Even if the scholarship is swayed by his perspective, no one can doubt the depths of the scholarship itself.

The style of the commentary matches what I’ve seen in other volumes of this series. Though the commentary on each verse begins with the phrase in Greek, it’s still easy to follow for those who don’t read Greek. I would not avoid this commentary for that reason.

The Introduction to Colossians begins after a lengthy bibliography. He first discusses the significance of the book, followed by the background of Colossae and its Christianity. He admits the lack of archaeological excavation in Colossae imbibes conclusions with uncertainty. I had trouble following him in some of the presuppositions that ultimately lead to his perspective on Paul. I certainly couldn’t agree with his lack of acceptance of the authorship of Paul. After a brief discussion of structure, he jumps into the commentary itself. Though his perspective on Paul is always going to be present, I still found his commentary interesting and the one I would want to consult from that perspective.

The commentary on Philemon is set up in a similar way. The Introduction discusses the author, the recipient, the occasion, and the place of writing. I was amazed that he didn’t allow himself to be submersed into the subject of slavery that consumes most other scholars these days. I appreciated that approach.

Though perhaps not as conservative as some, this is a major commentary that demands to be reckoned with. For that reason, I must recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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