Philippians and Philemon (NTL) by Cousar

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This volume by Charles Cousar in the New Testament Library (NTL) series covers Philippians and Philemon. I’ve read some unfavorable reviews on this book mostly owing to its brevity. While that charge is true, I came away rating this book better than I expected. It does hold to the familiar NTL pattern, is less critical than I anticipated, and provides insight.

After a bibliography, we have an Introduction to Philippians. He begins by acknowledging the theme of joy. (How could we trust any book on Philippians that ignored the theme of joy?) He introduces us to both the city and the church at Philippi. Its history in the Roman Empire, as well as its significance, are clearly reviewed. He refers, as he has at other times, on the fondness Paul has for this congregation. When he moved to the subject of authorship and integrity of the letter, he admits that the Pauline authorship is rarely questioned. Though he mentions a few absurd prognostications about authorship, he seems comfortable with Paul. As to place and date of writing, he presents briefly the evidence for Rome, Caesarea, and Ephesus before cautiously choosing Ephesus for this commentary. He explains Paul sending this letter as a thank you to the Philippians. He discusses structure and suggests an outline. As with any of these Philippian commentaries, he discusses the opponents. I thought he provided his best observations when he discussed the message of the letter. In less than 70 pages, he provides a commentary on Philippians that is worth consulting.

I felt the Introduction to Philemon was simply too short and discussed too little. What he did discuss, though, was some of the things that you wrestle with in such an introduction. The commentary on Philemon was unacceptably brief.

While this volume may not rate as highly as some in the series, it’s by no means a throwaway volume, at least on Philippians. If you are filling out your NTL collection, there is still value here as this author does his best work in providing nuggets for the preacher.

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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