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Liturgical Press

Sacra Pagina: Colossians And Ephesians

Margaret Y. MacDonald

Sacra Pagina: Colossians And Ephesians
Sacra Pagina: Colossians And Ephesians

ISBN: 9780814659786, 5978

Details: 416 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 03/01/2008
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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.

ISBN: 9780814659786, 5978

Details: 416 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 03/01/2008


This lively, engaging and accessible commentary will be a useful tool to reflect further on these undervalued letters. MacDonald's approach too, will open up fresh avenues of exploration which illuminate the texts in ways that are sure to provoke debate and helpful discussion.
The Way

Mitchell presents relevant Jewish background material, surveys secondary literature, and discusses the range of textual variants in a very clear manner. Her treatment of both epistles makes this one of the `stand-out' volumes in the series.
The Expository Times

Margaret MacDonald provides a superb, fresh close reading of Colossians and Ephesians. Her commentary is particularly outstanding for the way it brings to bear her expertise in social-scientific approaches and in feminist interpretation. She is an excellent communicator with a gift for integrating such expertise into her own reading without resorting to excessive theorizing or jargon and without neglecting other major themes and issues. Both scholarly and accessible, the commentary is richly rewarding in its detailed notes and in its broader exposition. Again and again readers will find sparkling insights into what these letters reveal about the life of Pauline communities and how their authors' perspectives may still be fruitfully engaged.
Andrew T. Lincoln, Portland Professor of New Testament at the University of Gloucestershire

This excellent and engaging commentary sheds new light on the complex issues surrounding the interpretation of Colossians and Ephesians. MacDonald's use of social-scientific studies of the ancient world opens new vistas for interpreting both the letters and the late first-century church. Her extraordinary knowledge of the social structures of the Greco-Roman world adds significant layers of context to our reading and enriches our grasp of the message of these letters. MacDonald also provides judicious and insightful treatments of the powerful theological themes that have made these letters so important in the development of the church's theology. The format of this series makes the scholarship found here accessible to a wide range of readers.
Jerry L. Sumney, Professor of Biblical Studies, Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, KY

This is a fine commentary which presents the fruits of scholarly research in a very clear and accessible way. The detailed notes offer a wealth of insight into the meaning of the text, while the interpretation sections offer a broader discussion of its content and significance. In particular, drawing judiciously on social-scientific resources, Margaret MacDonald offers a rich understanding of the social context of these two letters and of their contribution to the development of Christian community and identity. It is good news indeed that a new paperback edition will make this work even more accessible to a wide range of readers.
David G. Horrell, Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Exeter, UK

As the authors of Colossians and Ephesians well knew, making the invisible visible and the hidden known is itself a daunting task. Margaret MacDonald has deftly met the challenges these letters present to their interpreters, by offering a convincing explanation of their literary relationship and an interesting description of the social world out of which they emerged. All students of Colossians and Ephesians will appreciate her valuable contribution to our knowledge of the growth and development of post-Pauline Christianity and will be grateful for her clear, readable style.
Alan C. Mitchell, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

This entire series, and MacDonald's volume is no exception, ought to be essential reading for the preacher, the teacher, the college or high school student, and anyone who wants to read the new Testament texts with deeper insight and understanding.
Catholic Library World

A highly recommended reference source for scholars and pastors.
Religious Studies Review

This commentary is well worth reading on many levels. For pastors, graduate students, and specialists in Paul who may be unfamiliar with or wary of a social-scientific approach, this is a good introduction to the method. For those not familiar in detail with scholarly work on Ephesians and Colossians, it provides a basis for further investigation.
Louvain StudiesM

In this extremely helpful commentary, Margaret MacDonald gives a fresh reading of Colossians and Ephesians that places these two letters in the context of nascent Christianity in such a way as to illuminate both the letters and the shape of the early Church.
Toronto Journal of Theology

. . . offers solid, nuanced interpretations of both letters. Its pressing of social-scientific questions should help readers rethink the relation of theology and ethics to historical context.

. . . a superb addition to the corpus of commentaries on Colossians and Ephesians. . . . This excellent commentary will be accessible and useful to a broad range of readers, including scholars, clergy, students and any others interested in these letters. The social scientific-approach, readable style and appropriate attention to the afterlife and impact of these letters make the community concerns and struggles reflected in Colossians and Ephesians come alive in a manner rarely found in the commentary genre.
Studies in Religion

While the struggle between good and evil is a messy affair, Harrington's thesis that Revelation provides a positive perspective for Christians is convincing in detail and substance.
The Canadian Catholic Review