Colossians (NTL) by Sumney

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Jerry Sumney, a scholar who has written widely on various Pauline Epistles, gives us this commentary on Colossians in the New Testament Library (NTL) series. I had heard from some well-known reviewers that this volume was “thorough” in its presentation while its outlook was “moderately critical”. Now that I have this book in my hand, I find those designations perfectly accurate.

The author provides a shorter introduction to Colossians, but one that fits with several others I’ve seen in this series. The bibliography, though, was longer than some others. In the Introduction, he jumps first into authorship and date. He reviews many factors to be found in Colossians, such as Colossians being the first New Testament letter that discusses the household code. He thinks that Colossian’s theology is different than the New Testament letters that he feels are undisputed to have Paul as the author. He feels that the Holy Spirit is little mentioned while the approach to Christology goes farther than any other letter. He says that is the key to understanding the book. No doubt, he is right as Colossians teaches us about the preeminence of Christ. The author falls on the side of pseudonymity regarding Colossians but says that authorship has no determination on a New Testament letter being authoritative. Surprisingly, he dates the letter rather early.

Next, he discusses destination, followed by the false teaching present in Colossae, though that is briefer than I would have thought. He covers all he has to say on the textual history in two paragraphs. From there, he dives into theological themes including soteriology, Christology, eschatology, and spirituality.

The conclusions presented in the Introduction helps you to anticipate the direction he will go in the commentary itself. He introduces each text, prints the text, gives copious exegetical notes, and then provides detailed commentary on each verse. Again, whether you agree with every conclusion or not his work is quite thorough and written clearly.

I really can’t think of a better commentary on Colossians from the critical side. It’s up-to-date, not as extreme as some, and you can leave its pages with a clear understanding of how critical scholarship approaches Colossians today. This volume totally lives up to what we have come to expect from the NTL series.

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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