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Sacra Pagina: Galatians

Frank J. Matera

Paul's Letter to the Galatians has played a major role in the history of theology, especially in the Church's teaching on grace, faith, and justification. This commentary argues that Paul's doctrine of justification by faith is essentially social in nature and has important ecumenical implications for the Church today. In its original setting, Galatians established a foundation for the unity of Jewish and Gentile Christians: all are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ. In addition to illuminating the historical situation that led Paul to write his Letter to the Galatians, this commentary pays careful attention to the rhetorical structure of this letter and its theological message. The author provides a fresh translation of Galatians, critical notes on each verse of the text, and a careful commentary of the letter in light of Paul's theology. Theories abound on the question of Galatians, why it was written, what it says, and what the implications of that message are. Yet few scholars have devoted themselves at length to this letter. What sets this work apart is its extent and detail, and its academic rather than popular intent.

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Sacra Pagina: The Pastoral Epistles

First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus

Benjamin Fiore, SJ

First and Second Timothy and Titus have for many years borne the collective title "The Pastoral Epistles." Both their style and their content make it difficult to locate them within the corpus of Pauline letters, and recent scholarship most often considers them pseudonymous, works that imitate Paul's letters but apply the apostle's teaching to the concerns of a later time, two or more decades after Paul's death. The Pastorals differ from Paul's own letters in being addressed to single individuals, coworkers of Paul who have been placed in charge of particular churches—Timothy apparently in Ephesus, Titus in Crete. They provide instruction for community leaders, both the individual addressees and other leaders whom they will appoint. The specification of certain offices within the local churches is one of the features that appear to locate these works in a later phase of church development. In this commentary Benjamin Fiore, SJ, places the Pastorals in their historical and literary context. The reader will find here a solid introduction to parallel literary forms in Latin and Greek literature and particular descriptions of the way in which these documents use ancient rhetorical forms to achieve their paraenetic and hortatory purpose. Drawing on his parish experience as well as his academic training, Fiore also provides reflections on the contemporary pastoral application of these books, giving readers a renewed appreciation for the "pastoral" label these epistles bear. Benjamin Fiore, SJ, is president and professor of religious studies at Campion College at the University of Regina (Canada).

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Sacra Pagina: 1 Peter, Jude and 2 Peter

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 C.E. 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 Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and general editor of New Testament Abstracts. He is a past-president of the Catholic Biblical Association of American and the editor of the Sacra Pagina series. He also wrote The Gospel of Matthew in the Sacra Pagina series. Donald Senior, CP, is a professor of New Testament studies and president of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He was recently appointed by Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Biblical Commission. General editor of The Bible Today, he also co-edited The Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of the Bible and the 22-volume international commentary series New Testament Message, and he wrote the four-volume The Passion series published by The Liturgical Press.

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Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Mark

John R. Donahue, SJ, and Daniel J. Harrington, SJ

In The Gospel of Mark Fathers Donahue and Harrington use an approach that can be expressed by two terms currently used in literary criticism: intratextuality and intertextuality. This intratextual and intertextual reading of Mark's Gospel helps us to appreciate the literary character, its setting in life, and its distinctive approaches to the Old Testament, Jesus, and early Christian theology. "Intratextuality" means we read Mark as Mark and by Mark. Such a reading expresses interest in the final form of the Gospel (not its source or literary history) and in its words and images, literary devices, literary forms, structures, characterization, and plot. Reading Mark by Mark gives particular attention to the distinctive vocabulary and themes that run throughout the Gospel and serve to hold it together as a unified literary production. "Intertextuality" comprises the relation between texts and a textual tradition, and also referring to contextual materials not usually classified as texts (e.g., archaeological data). "Intertextuality" is used to note the links of the text of Mark's Gospel to other texts (especially the Old Testament) and to the life of the Markan community and of the Christian community today. Chapters are "The Prologue: The Beginning of the Good News (1:1-13)," "Transitional Markan Summary: Proclamation of the Kingdom (1:14-15)," "The Call of the First Disciples (1:16-20)," "A Paradigmatic Day Begins the Ministry of Jesus (1:21-34)," "Highpoints of Jesus' Work in Galilee (1:35-45)," "The Healing of the Paralyzed Man (2:1-12)," "The Call of Levi and Meals with Tax Collectors and Sinners (2:13-17)," "Fasting, Torn Garments, and New Wineskins (2:18-22)," "Plucking Grain of the Sabbath (2:23-28)," "Healing on a Sabbath (3:1-6)," "Transitional Markan Summary: Healing Beside the Sea (3:7-12)," "Choosing the Twelve (3:13-19)," "The Beelzebul Controversy and the True Family of Jesus (3:20-35)," "The Parable of the Sower, Sayings on the Mystery of the Kingdom of God, and the Allegory of the Seeds (4:1-20)," "Four Sayings on Revelation and Two Kingdom Parables (4:21-34)," "Jesus’ Power Over the Wind and Waves (4:35-41)," "The Exorcism of the Gerasene Demoniac (5:1-20)," "The Daughter of Jairus and the Woman with the Hemorrhage (5:21-43)," "The Rejection at Nazareth (6:1-6a)," "The Mission Charge to the Twelve (6:6b-13)," "The Identity of Jesus and the Execution of John the Baptist (6:14-29)," "The Feeding of the 5000 by the Sea of Galilee (6:30-44)," "Jesus Walks on the Water and Astounds the Disciples (6:45-52)," "A Markan Summary of the Healing Power of Jesus (6:53-56)," "The Dispute over Clean and Unclean (7:1-23)," "The Syrophoenician Woman (7:24-30)," "Jesus Restores Hearing and Speech to a Suffering Man (7:31-37)," "The Second Feeding Narrative: The 4000 (8:1-10)," "Pharisees and Scribes Seek a Sign (8:11-13)," "A Further Misunderstanding by the Disciples and the Conclusion of the Bread Section (8:14-21)," "The Gradual Healing of a Blind Man (8:22-26)," "Peter’s Confession, the First Passion Prediction, Peter’s Misunderstanding, and the Demands of Discipleship (8:27-38)," "The Transfiguration (9:1-13)," "Healing a Possessed Boy (9:14-29)," "A Second Passion Prediction and More Instructions for Disciples (9:30-50)," "Marriage and Divorce (10:1-12)," "Jesus Blesses Children (10:13-16)," "Riches and Poverty (10:17-31)," "A Third Passion Prediction and More Instructions for Disciples (10:32-45)," "The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52)," "Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem (11:1-11)," "The Fig Tree and the Temple (11:12-25)," "The Authority of Jesus (11:27-33)," "The Parable of the Vineyard (12:1-12)," "Taxes to Caesar (12:13-17)," "The Debate about Resurrection (12:18-27)," "The Great Commandment(s) (12:28-34)," "The Messiah and the Son of David (12:35-37)," "The Scribes and the Widow (12:38-44)," "Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse (13:1-37)," "Contrasting Beginnings of Jesus’ Last Days (14:1-11)," "Jesus’ Final Meal with His Disciples (14:12-25)," "Prediction of Peter’s Denial (14:26-31)," "Jesus in Gethsemane (14:32-42)," "The Arrest of Jesus (14:43-52)," "Jesus Before the Sanhedrin and the Denial by Peter (14:53-72)," "Jesus Before Pilate (15:1-20)," "The Crucifixion of Jesus (15:21-32)," "The Death of Jesus (15:33-41)," "The Burial of Jesus (15:42-47)," "The Empty Tomb (16:1-8)," "Later Endings (16:9-20)." John R. Donahue, SJ, PhD, is the Raymond E. Brown Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore, Maryland. Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, PhD, is professor of New Testament at Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and general editor of New Testament Abstracts. He wrote The Gospel of Matthew and is the editor of the Sacra Pagina series.

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Sacra Pagina: 1, 2, and 3 John

John Painter

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.

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Sacra Pagina: James

Patrick J. Hartin

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.

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Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of John

Francis J. Moloney, SDB

No other book of the New Testament has attracted as much attention from commentators as the Fourth Gospel. It has stirred minds, hearts, and imaginations from Christianity's earliest days. In The Gospel of John, Francis Moloney unfolds the identifiable "point of view" of this unique Gospel narrative and offers readers, heirs to its rich and widely varied interpretative traditions, relevance for their lives today. The Gospel of John's significance for Christianity has been obvious from the time of Irenaeus. It was also fundamental in the emergence of Christian theology, especially in the trinitarian and christological debates that produced the great ecumenical Councils, from Nicaea to Chalcedon. What sets this commentary on the Fourth Gospel apart from others is Moloney's particular attention to the narrative design of the Gospel story. He traces the impact the Johannine form of the Jesus story has made on readers and explicates the way in which the author has told the story of Jesus. Through this he demonstrates how the Gospel story articulates a coherent theology, christology, and ecclesiology.

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Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Luke

Luke Timothy Johnson

Now Available in Paperback!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. Luke Timothy Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

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Sacra Pagina: The Pastoral Epistles

First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus

Benjamin Fiore, SJ

First and Second Timothy and Titus have for many years borne the collective title The Pastoral Epistles. Both their style and their content make it difficult to locate them within the corpus of Pauline letters, and recent scholarship most often considers them pseudonymous, works that imitate Paul's letters but apply the apostle's teaching to the concerns of a later time, two or more decades after Paul's death. The Pastorals differ from Paul's own letters in being addressed to single individuals, coworkers of Paul who have been placed in charge of particular churches—Timothy apparently in Ephesus, Titus in Crete. They provide instruction for community leaders, both the individual addressees and other leaders whom they will appoint. The specification of certain offices within the local churches is one of the features that appear to locate these works in a later phase of church development. In this commentary Benjamin Fiore, S.J., places the Pastorals in their historical and literary context. The reader will find here a solid introduction to parallel literary forms in Latin and Greek literature and particular descriptions of the way in which these documents use ancient rhetorical forms to achieve their paraenetic and hortatory purpose. Drawing on his parish experience as well as his academic training, Fiore also provides reflections on the contemporary pastoral application of these books, giving readers a renewed appreciation for the pastoral label these epistles bear. Benjamin Fiore, SJ, is president and professor of religious studies at Campion College at the University of Regina (Canada).

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Sacra Pagina: First and Second Thessalonians

Earl J. Richard

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.

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Sacra Pagina: Second Corinthians

Jan Lambrecht, SJ

Regarded as the most personal of Paul's "weighty and strong" (10:10) letters, the Second Letter to the Corinthians continues to contribute toward the “building up” (13:10) of its readers. The Second Letter to the Corinthians is an implicit yet undeniable plea that Paul addresses to the Christians of Corinth and is impressive above all for its exposition of the apostle’s identity. 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. Not an easy letter to follow, the emotional language used in 2 Corinthians, the question of the integrity of 2 Corinthians as a letter, and inadequate information about the concrete situation at Corinth and the identity of Paul’s opponents make following the flow of Paul’s argument difficult at times. Yet 2 Corinthians 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. Chapters are “Corinth and Paul’s Visits,” “Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence,” “Christianity in Corinth,” “The Events Between 1 and 2 Corinthians,” “Paul’s Opponents,” “One Integral Letter?” “A Structured Survey of the Letter,” “The Theological Significance of the Letter.”

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Sacra Pagina: First Corinthians

Raymond Collins

Now Available in Paperback!One of the most exciting of Paul’s letters, First Corinthians offers a vantage point from which modern readers can reflect on the diversity in Christian Churches today. In First Corinthians, Raymond Collins explores that vantage point as well as the challenge Paul posed to the people of his time—and continues to pose in ours—to allow the gospel message to engage them in their daily lives. Paul introduces us to a flesh-and-blood community whose humanness was all too apparent. Sex, death, and money were among the issues they had to face. Social conflicts and tension within their Christian community were part of their daily lives. Paul uses all of his diplomacy, rhetorical skill, and authority to exhort the Corinthian community to be as one in Christ. In examining Paul’s message and method, Collins approaches First Corinthians as a Hellenistic letter written to people dealing with real issues in the Hellenistic world. He cites existing Hellenistic letters to show that Paul was truly a letter writer of his own times. Collins makes frequent references to the writings of the philosophic moralists to help clarify the way in which Paul spoke to his beloved Corinthians. He also comments on some aspects of the social circumstances that shaped the Christians of Corinth. Raymond Collins, PhD is a priest of the Diocese of Providence and is the dean of the School of Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of John and His Witness and Divorce in the New Testament published by Liturgical Press.

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Sacra Pagina: The Pastoral Epistles

First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus

Benjamin Fiore, SJ

First and Second Timothy and Titus have for many years borne the collective title "The Pastoral Epistles." Both their style and their content make it difficult to locate them within the corpus of Pauline letters, and recent scholarship most often considers them pseudonymous, works that imitate Paul's letters but apply the apostle's teaching to the concerns of a later time, two or more decades after Paul's death. The Pastorals differ from Paul's own letters in being addressed to single individuals, coworkers of Paul who have been placed in charge of particular churches—Timothy apparently in Ephesus, Titus in Crete. They provide instruction for community leaders, both the individual addressees and other leaders whom they will appoint. The specification of certain offices within the local churches is one of the features that appear to locate these works in a later phase of church development. In this commentary Benjamin Fiore, SJ, places the Pastorals in their historical and literary context. The reader will find here a solid introduction to parallel literary forms in Latin and Greek literature and particular descriptions of the way in which these documents use ancient rhetorical forms to achieve their paraenetic and hortatory purpose. Drawing on his parish experience as well as his academic training, Fiore also provides reflections on the contemporary pastoral application of these books, giving readers a renewed appreciation for the "pastoral" label these epistles bear. Benjamin Fiore, SJ, is president and professor of religious studies at Campion College at the University of Regina (Canada).

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Sacra Pagina: First Corinthians

Raymond Collins

2000 Catholic Press Association Award Winner! One of the most exciting of Paul's letters, 1 Corinthians offers a vantage point from which modern readers can reflect on diverseness in Christian Churches today. In First Corinthians, Raymond Collins explores that vantage point as well as the challenge Paul posed to the people of his time—and continues to pose in ours—to allow the gospel message to engage them in their daily lives. Paul introduces us to a flesh-and-blood community whose humanness was all too apparent. Sex, death, and money were among the issues they had to face. Social conflicts and tension within their Christian community were part of their daily lives. Paul uses all of his diplomacy, rhetorical skill, and authority to exhort the Corinthian community to be as one in Christ. In examining Paul’s message and method, Collins approaches 1 Corinthians as a Hellenistic letter written to people dealing with real issues in the Hellenistic world. He cites existing Hellenistic letters to show that Paul was truly a letter writer of his own times. Collins makes frequent references to the writings of the philosophic moralists to help clarify the way in which Paul spoke to his beloved Corinthians. He also comments on some aspects of the social circumstances in which the Christians of Corinth actually lived. Chapters are "Introduction"; “Translation, Interpretation, Notes”; “Body of the Letter”; “Indexes.” Raymond Collins, PhD is a priest of the Diocese of Providence and is the dean of the School of Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of John and His Witness and Divorce in the New Testament published by The Liturgical Press.

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Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Mark

John R. Donahue, SJ, and Daniel J. Harrington, SJ

Now available in paperback!In The Gospel of Mark Fathers Donahue and Harrington use an approach that can be expressed by two terms currently used in literary criticism: intratextuality and intertextuality. This intratextual and intertextual reading of Mark's Gospel helps us to appreciate the literary character, its setting in life, and its distinctive approaches to the Old Testament, Jesus, and early Christian theology. Includes an updated bibliography as an appendix. Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, is a professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and general editor of New Testament Abstracts. He is a past-president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and is the author of The Gospel of Matthew and co-author of 1 Peter, Jude and 2 Peter in the Sacra Pagina series published by Liturgical Press. John Donahue, SJ, PhD, is the Raymond E. Brown Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. He is the author of Life in Abundance: Studies of John’s Gospel in Tribute to Raymond E. Brown, S.S., and Hearing the Word of God: Reflections on the Sunday Readings, Year A published by Liturgical Press.

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