Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians merits detailed study for at least two reasons. First, it provides an unexpectedly interesting window into the character of Christianity in Asia Minor in the second half of the first century. With the information it gives about the religious tensions within which emergent Christianity was caught up, not least those between Christianity and diaspora Judaism, we begin to gain more insight into the influences and factors that shaped the transition from apostolic to subapostolic Christianity in the region. Second, Colossians represents a crucial stage in the development of Pauline theology itself. Whether it was written at the end of Paul’s life or soon after his death, it indicates how Pauline theology retained its own vital character and did not die with Paul.
In this volume in the celebrated New International Greek Testament Commentary, James D. G. Dunn, author of numerous well-received works on the historical origin and theological interpretation of the New Testament, provides detailed expositions of the text of Paul’s letters to the Colossians and to Philemon.
Dunn examines each of these letters within the context of the Jewish and Hellenistic cultures in the first century, and discusses the place of Colossians and Philemon in the relationship between the Pauline mission and the early churches that received these letters. Particular stress is also placed on the role of faith in Jesus Christ within and over against Judaism and on the counsel of these two important letters with regard to the shaping of human relationships in the community of faith.
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