Now Available in Paperback!No two works in the Pauline Epistles resemble each other as closely as Colossians and Ephesians. Often recognized for their majestic tone and powerful theological statement, Colossians and Ephesians also present many challenges of interpretation. Most commentaries on these letters seem preoccupied with the same few issues, particularly the question of authorship. As MacDonald addresses these classic questions, she offers a fresh perspective on Colossians and Ephesians by making use of insights from the social sciences. Moreover, by paying attention to subtle differences between the two letters, she brings their distinct perspectives into sharp relief. MacDonald highlights the interplay between Colossians and Ephesians and the social life of New Testament communities. She illustrates how the texts reflect ancient cultural values and are influenced by particular aspects of community life such as worship and household existence. In particular, she reflects on the issues faced by these communities as they formed institutions and interacted with the society around them. She shows the struggles of the New Testament communities to survive and maintain a distinct identity in first-century society. Margaret Y. MacDonald is a professor in the department of religious studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. She and Carolyn Osiek have coauthored (with Janet H. Tulloch) A Women’s Place: House Churches in Earliest Christianity (Fortress, 2006). Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
2008 Catholic Press Association Award Winner! Scarcely any book of the New Testament (with the possible exception of Revelation) is so perplexing as the Letter to the Hebrews. Not really a letter, but a sermon with some features of a letter added to it, not really by its putative author, Paul, but by an anonymous Christian who wrote some of the most elegant Greek in the Bible, not really addressed to the Hebrews, but to Christians, probably in Rome—this is the work that Alan Mitchell explains in this commentary. Many scholars have written fine commentaries on Hebrews, and Mitchell stands on their shoulders, noting where he proposes alternate interpretations. Mitchell pays particular attention to the reliance of the author of Hebrews on the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint). He also compares the language of Hebrews with similar usage and ideas of first-century Hellenistic Jewish authors, notably Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria. Furthermore, he situates Hebrews against the background of the tradition of Hellenistic Moral Philosophy, where that is appropriate. Mitchell thus locates Hebrews in its proper thought-world, something that is essential for the modern reader in dealing with some of the thornier questions raised by this biblical book. Chief among these are the role of sacrificial atonement, the question of second repentance, and the spiritual and moral formation of the Roman Christians who were its recipients. Like all the volumes in the Sacra Pagina series, this work examines the text in detail, with careful attention to the words and phrasing, and then brings those individual insights together into a coherent summary. The bibliography and special lists appended to each chapter cover the best of recent scholarship on the Letter to the Hebrews. Alan C. Mitchell, PhD, is Associate Professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Origins at Georgetown University and is Director of the Annual Georgetown University Institute on Sacred Scripture. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and Catholic Biblical Association.
Now Available in Paperback!Second Corinthians is often regarded as the most personal of Paul’s letters. In this letter Paul more than once fiercely counters the attacks of his opponents. He extensively describes both the quality and circumstances of his apostolic existence: the sufferings he endures, the opposition he encounters, and his continual care for the churches. Second Corinthians is, therefore, highly significant theologically as well as autobiographically. This letter is an especially important document because of Paul’s ongoing reflection on his ministry. It is both profound in its content and style for its original audience as well as for today’s readers. It is a message that is relevant to Christians today. Jan Lambrecht, SJ, is professor emeritus of New Testament and biblical Greek at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
The letters First and Second Thessalonians are traditionally associated with the Pauline foundation of the Macedonian Church at Thessalonica. The first is seen as representing Paul's earliest epistolary efforts and as providing two successive moments in his long relationship as advisor to that community. Soon after leaving the area for the southern province of Achaia, Paul addresses the concerns of the new Gentile converts and at a later period responds more directly to queries received from the thriving and successful community. The second document, written in Paul's name and at a later date, attempts to calm the apocalyptic fervor of the community by reiterating its traditional eschatological and Christological teaching. After treating these introductory matters, this study provides a new translation of each section of the canonical text, explains in notes the pertinent textual and linguistic features of the text, and then offers in a series of interpretive messages a literary, rhetorical, and thematic analysis of the biblical documents. The constant concern of this commentary is to provide assistance to modern readers in discerning the relationship between the authors and their intended readers. Short bibliographies suggest other important modern studies. Includes an updated bibliography as an appendix. Earl J. Richard is professor emeritus of New Testament at Loyola University in New Orleans. He holds graduate degrees in biblical studies from Ottawa University, Johns Hopkins, and The Catholic University of America in Washington. He is the author of Jesus: One and Many and is editor and contributor to New Views on Luke and Acts. He is past president of the Society of Biblical Literature (southeast region) and a member of the Catholic Biblical Association.
Matthew wrote his Gospel from his perspective as a Jew. It is with sensitivity to this perspective that Father Harrington undertakes this commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.After an introduction, he provides a literal translation of each section in Matthew's Gospel and explains the textual problems, philological difficulties, and other matters in the notes. He then presents a literary analysis of each text (content, form, use of sources, structure), examines the text against its Jewish background, situates it in the context of Matthew's debate with other first-century Jews, and reflects on its significance for Christian theology and Christian-Jewish relations. Includes an updated bibliography and appendix.Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, PhD, is a professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has written numerous scholarly works, including What Are We Hoping For?: New Testament Images, The Gospel of Mark, Jesus Ben Sira of Jerusalem: A Biblical Guide to Living Wisely, and The Letter to the Hebrews, all published by Liturgical Press. He has been editor of New Testament Abstracts since 1972.
Although relatively brief, Philippians is one of the most interesting and beloved of Paul's undisputed epistles. In Philippians and Philemon, Bonnie Thurston makes a convincing case that canonical Philippians is as Paul wrote it, one letter. Although there is not enough specific evidence to Â"name names,Â" she suggests a number of possible audiences. A translation conforming as closely as possible to the original Greek is provided, along with a careful analysis of the language of the letter that yields insights into the context and theological underpinning of this epistle. The apostleÂs very brief letter to Philemon stands solidly within the Pauline collection of authentic and canonical letters. In this volume, Judith Ryan argues that Philemon makes two specific appeals. The first seeks to elicit PhilemonÂs partnership and his communityÂs support in welcoming Onesimus back as both beloved brother and honored guest. The second requests that Onesimus be allowed to use the freedom he already has to serve Christ and his Gospel. In this commentary Ryan provides a fresh translation, critical notes for each verse, and interpretation on defined sections. She situates the letter in the historical context of slavery in the ancient world and shows how Paul combined his theology with contemporary rhetorical strategies to produce an effective challenge to his audience. Bonnie B. Thurston, PhD, lives in West Virginia in solitude. She is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the author of several books, including The Spiritual Landscape of Mark and Religious Vows, the Sermon on the Mount, and Christian Living (Liturgical Press) and Preaching Mark (Fortress Press). Judith M. Ryan, PhD, STL, is associate professor of New Testament at the University of St. Thomas School of Theology at St. Mary's Seminary, Houston, Texas. Previously she taught at Catholic University of America, Fordham University, the University of Scranton, College Misericordia, and St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore, Maryland.
In his commentary on the letter of James, Hartin offers a unique approach toward understanding a much-neglected writing. Refusing to read the letter of James through the lens of Paul, Hartin approaches the letter in its own right. He takes seriously the address to "the twelve tribes in the Dispersion" (1:1) as directed to Jews who had embraced the message of Jesus and were living outside their homeland, Israel. At the same time, Hartin shows how this letter remains true to Jesus' heritage. Using recent studies on rhetorical culture, Hartin illustrates how James takes Jesus’ sayings and performs them again in his own way to speak to the hearers/readers of his own world. Hartin examines the text, passage by passage, while providing essential notes and an extensive explanation of the theological meaning of each passage. The value of this commentary lies in its breadth of scholarship and its empathic approach to this writing. The reader will discover new and refreshing insights into the world of early Christianity as well as a teaching that is of perennial significance. Patrick J. Hartin was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He studied at the Gregorian University in Rome and is an ordained priest of the Diocese of Spokane, Washington. He holds two doctorates in Theology: in Ethics and in the New Testament, both from the University of South Africa. Presently he teaches courses in the New Testament and in Classical Civilizations at Gonzaga University. He is the author of eleven books, including: Apollos (Paul’s Social Network series), James of Jerusalem (Interfaces series), and James, First Peter, Jude, Second Peter (New Collegeville Bible Commentary series), all published by Liturgical Press.
This commentary adopts a literary-rhetorical approach, viewing the letter as an instrument of persuasion designed to transform readers through a celebratory presentation of the Gospel. Reflecting upon the fate of Jews and Gentiles, Paul wins his audience to a vision of a God who always acts inclusively. The God who, in the person of Israel's Messiah (Jesus), has acted faithfully to include the Gentile peoples within the community of salvation, will not fail to see to the eventual inclusion of Israel as well. In the victory of grace displayed already in the risen humanity of Jesus, the original design of the Creator for human communities and for the world begins to come true.The interpretation of Paul's letter to Rome has accompanied and stimulated the path of Christian theology down to today. Romans touches upon virtually all main issues of Christian theology, as well as presenting a rewarding introduction to Paul. Byrne facilitates full access to Paul and his Gospel through the letter, allowing Christians today to hear his voice as intelligibly and powerfully as it has spoken to past generations.
Donald P. Senior, CP, and Daniel J. Harrington, SJ
Crisis in the church is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the church has always been—and probably always will be—involved in some kind of crisis. Even in the apostolic period, which is regarded by many as the church’s golden age, there were serious crises coming both from the outside, as in 1 Peter, and from the inside, as in Jude and 2 Peter. The three short New Testament letters treated in 1 Peter, Jude and 2 Peter illustrate the problems early Christians faced as well as the rhetorical techniques and theological concepts with which they combated those problems. In the first part of this volume, Donald Senior views 1 Peter as written from Rome in Peter’s name to several churches in northern Asia Minor—present-day Turkey—in the latter part of the first century CE. The new Christians addressed in 1 Peter found themselves aliens and exiles in the wider Greco-Roman society and suffered a kind of social ostracism. But they are given a marvelous theological vision of who they have become through their baptism and pastoral encouragement to stand firm. They are shown how to take a missionary stance toward the outside world by giving the witness of a holy and blameless life to offset the slander and ignorance of the non-Christian majority and possibly even to lead them to glorify God on the day of judgment. In the second part of this volume, Daniel Harrington interprets Jude and 2 Peter as confronting crises in the late first century that were perpetrated by Christian teachers who are described polemically as intruders in Jude and as false teachers in 2 Peter. In confronting the crises within their churches, the authors appeal frequently to the Old Testament and to early summaries of Christian faith. While Jude uses other Jewish traditions, 2 Peter includes most of the text of Jude as well as many distinctively Greek terms and concepts. It is clear that for the authors, despite their different social settings, what was at stake was the struggle for the faith. Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, is a professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has written numerous works, including What Are We Hoping For? New Testament Images, Why Do We Hope? Images in the Psalms, and Jesus Ben Sira of Jerusalem: A Biblical Guide to Living Wisely, all published by Liturgical Press. Harrington is editor of the Sacra Pagina series, for which he also authored The Gospel of Matthew and coauthored The Gospel of Mark. Donald Senior, CP, is president of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he is also a member of the faculty as professor of New Testament. He is the general editor of the acclaimed Catholic Study Bible (Oxford University Press, rev. ed., 2006), coeditor of The New Interpreters Study Bible (Abingdon Press, 2003), and editor-in-chief of The Bible Today. His publications include the four-volume The Passion series (Liturgical Press), Jesus: A Gospel Portrait (Paulist Press, rev. ed., 1994), What Are They Saying About Matthew? (Paulist Press, rev. ed., 1996), and a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew. Abingdon Press, 1998). He is past president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America. In 2001 Pope John Paul II appointed him as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and he was reappointed in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.
No two works in the Pauline Epistles resemble each other as closely as Colossians and Ephesians. Often recognized for their majestic tone and powerful theological statement, Colossians and Ephesians also present many challenges of interpretation. Most commentaries on these letters seem preoccupied with the same few issues, particularly the question of authorship. As MacDonald addresses these classic questions, she offers a fresh perspective on Colossians and Ephesians by making use of insights from the social sciences. Moreover, by paying attention to subtle differences between the two letters, she brings their distinct perspectives into sharp relief. MacDonald highlights the interplay between Colossians and Ephesians and the social life of New Testament communities. She illustrates how the texts reflect ancient cultural values and are influenced by particular aspects of community life such as worship and household existence. In particular, she reflects on the issues faced by these communities as they formed institutions and interacted with the society around them. She shows the struggles of the New Testament communities to survive and maintain a distinct identity in first-century society. Chapters under Colossians are "Greeting (1:1-2)," "Thanksgiving for the Colossians (1:3-8)," "Prayer on Behalf of the Colossians (1:9-14,)" "The Christ-Hymn (1:15-20)," "Application of Hymn to the Situation in Colossae (1:21-23)," "Paul's Authority in Colossae and Laodicea (1:24-2:7)," "Debate with the Opponents: The Power of the Risen Christ (2:8-15)," "Debate with the Opponents: Warnings Against Ascetic Practices (2:16-23)," "New Life in Light of the Resurrection (3:1-4)," "Ethical Guidelines for a New Life (3:5-17)," "The Households of Believers (3:18-4:1)," "Prayer, Mission, and Contact with Outsiders (4:2-6)," "Conclusion: Personal Notes and Greetings (4:7-18)." Chapters under Ephesians are "Greeting (1:1-2)," "Blessing (1:3-14)," "Thanksgiving and Prayer (1:15-23)," "The Consequences of Life Together with Christ (2:1-10)," "The Unity of Jews and Gentiles Created by Christ (2:11-22)," "The Apostle as Interpreter of the Divine Mystery (3:1-13)," "Prayer and Doxology (3:14-21)," "The Unity of the Spirit (4:1-16)," "The Sons of Disobedience and the Children of Light (4:17-5:20)," "The Households of Believers (5:21-6:9)," "Doing Battle with Evil (6:10-20)," "Conclusion: Personal Matters and Final Blessing (6:21-24)." Margaret Y. MacDonald is a professor in the department of religious studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.
Sacra Pagina is a multi volume commentary on the books of the New Testament.The expression "Sacra Pagina" ("Sacred Page") originally referred to the text of Scripture. In the Middle Ages it also described the study of Scripture to which the interpreter brought the tools of grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, and philosophy.This series presents fresh translations and modern expositions of all the books of the New Testament. Written by an international team of Catholic biblical scholars, it is intended for biblical professionals, graduate students, theologians, clergy, and religious educators. The volumes present basic introductory information and close exposition, with each author adopting a specific methodology while maintaining a focus on the issues raised by the New Testament compositions themselves.The goal of Sacra Pagina is to provide sound, critical analysis without any loss of sensitivity to religious meaning. This series is therefore catholic in two senses of the word: inclusive in its methods and perspectives, and shaped by the context of the Catholic tradition.The Second Vatican Council described the study of "the sacred page" as the "very soul of sacred theology" (Dei Verbum 24). The volumes in this series illustrate how Catholic scholars contribute to the council's call to provide access to Sacred Scripture for all the Christian faithful. Rather than pretending to say the final word on any text, these volumes seek to open up the riches of the New Testament and to invite as many people as possible to study seriously the "sacred page."
What makes this commentary on Luke stand apart from others is that, from beginning to end, this is a literary analysis. Because it focuses solely on the gospel as it appears and not on its source or origin, this commentary richly and thoroughly explores just what Luke is saying and how he says it.
The Johannine Epistles are today read as an important part of the Johannine literature. Yet the meaning of the text is often unclear. Part of the problem arises because, although 1 John is called an Epistle, it lacks the formal marks of an Epistle. In 1, 2, and 3 John, John Painter illuminates the relationship 1, 2, and 3 John have to each other and to the Gospel. Painter explains the historical context of the Johannine Epistles using a socio-rhetorical approach. The writings are shown to reflect a situation of conflict and schism within the Johannine community; they seek to persuade the readers of the truth of the writer's message. In this truth, the readers are encouraged to abide if they would have the assurance of eternal life. Painter also examines the inseparable connection between belief and ethical life in active love for one another. Through the socio-rhetorical approach Painter brings to light the continuing relevance of these writings. 1, 2, and 3 John is divided into two parts. Chapters under 1 John are "Introduction to the Exegesis of 1 John," Outline of 1 John, First Presentation of the Two Tests (1:6-2:27), Excursus: Sin and Sinlessness, Excursus: Love of the Brother/Sister: of One Another, Excursus: The Antichrist, Second Presentation of the Two Tests (2:28-4:6), Third Presentation of the Two Tests (4:7-5:12), Conclusion (5:13-21), and Excursus: A Sin Unto Death.' Chapters under 2 and 3 John are 2 John, Introduction to the Exegesis of 2 John, Outline of 2 John, Prescripti 2 John 1-3, Body of the Letter (4-11), Notice of Intention to Visit (12), and Final Greetings (13), 3 John, Introduction to the Exegesis of 3 John, Outline of 3 John, Prescript: 3 John 1-2, Body of Letter (3-12), and Final Greetings (13-15). John Painter is the Foundation Professor of Theology at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia.
This commentary adopts a literary-rhetorical approach, viewing the letter as an instrument of persuasion designed to transform readers through a celebratory presentation of the Gospel. Reflecting upon the fate of Jews and Gentiles, Paul wins his audience to a vision of a God who always acts inclusively. The God who, in the person of Israel's Messiah (Jesus), has acted faithfully to include the Gentile peoples within the community of salvation, will not fail to see to the eventual inclusion of Israel as well. In the victory of grace displayed already in the risen humanity of Jesus, the original design of the Creator for human communities and for the world begins to come true. The interpretation of Paul's letter to Rome has accompanied and stimulated the path of Christian theology down to today. Romans touches upon virtually all main issues of Christian theology, as well as presenting a rewarding introduction to Paul. Byrne facilitates full access to Paul and his Gospel through the letter, allowing Christians today to hear his voice as intelligibly and powerfully as it has spoken to past generations.
Now Available in Paperback!The Acts of the Apostles is the second volume in the two-part writing scholars call Luke-Acts. It continues the story begun in the Gospel of Luke, showing how the Good News offered by Jesus was eventually extended to the end of the earth, so that Gentiles as well as Jews came to share in the blessings of God. This commentary treats Luke-Acts as an apologetic history. It takes with equal seriousness Luke’s literary artistry and his historical interests, fitting his methods comfortably within the ancient standards of historiography. This perspective illustrates in particular that Luke’s historical narrative serves a definite religious intent. Tracing that intent through the specific contours of Luke’s story is the special contribution of this commentary.