The letter of Philemon has been somewhat neglected in pauline research, but recent years have seen an increase in interesting studies dealing with this brief letter. In the last decade, e.g., no less than 3 commentaries of 300-500 pages have been published, in addition to several minor ones, and a lot of articles. Concerning major commentaries, I am here thinking of
Markus Barth & Helmut Blanke,
The Letter to Philemon. A New Translation with Notes and Commentary (The Eerdmans Critical Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mi., Eerdmans, 200) 561pp.
Philemon (Papyrologische Kommentare zum Neuen Testament Band 1; Gottingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003). 309pp.
John G. Nordling,
Philemon (Concordia Commentary; Saint Louis; Concordia Publishing House, 2004), 379pp.
It represents one of my own fields of research interests too, hence I would have liked to have attended a conference in South Africa these days:
Philemon in perspective
The third meeting of the
International Colloquium on the New Testament
will be held on 19-20 August 2008
Venue: University of the Free State Bloemfontein South Africa.
The colloquium will be devoted entirely to Paul’s Letter to Philemon. Papers on this brief letter of Paul – from various perspectives – will be read and discussed. The participants and papers to be discussed are listed thus (in alphabetical order):
- Peter Arzt-Grabner: How to deal with Onesimus? Paul’s solution from the perspective of ancient legal and documentary sources
- Bob Atkins: Contextual readings of Philemon in the United States
- Pieter Botha: The production and reception of submission: the re-making of bodies in the Letter to Philemon
- Pieter de Villiers: Love in the Letter to Philemon
- Chris de Wet: Honour discourse in John Chrysostom’s exegesis of Philemon
- Lambert Jacobs: Persuasive speech acts in Paul’s Letter to Philemon
- Pierre Jordaan: Reading Philemon as therapeutic narrative
- Peter Lampe: Affects and emotions in the rhetoric of Paul’s Letter to Philemon
- Jeremy Punt: Paul, power and Philemon. A postcolonial reading
- Francois Tolmie: Tendencies in the research on the Letter to Philemon since 1980
- Rian Venter: Reading Philemon in Africa
- Michael Wolter: The Epistle to Philemon as ethical counterpart of Paul’s doctrine of justification
- # Ernst Wendland: “You will do even more than I say”. On the rhetorical function of stylistic form in Philemon
- Francois Wessels: No longer a slave? Slavery as the assumed context of Philemon 16
- Michael White: “Refresh my heart in Christ”: Context and rhetoric in the Letter to Philemon
- Jeff Weima: Paul’s persuasive prose: An epistolary analysis of Philemon
This is indeed a great sample of scholars and topics related to Philemon; it mirrors both the increasing interests in Philemon, and also the great specter of focuses and methods in vogue in New Testament studies these days.
I wish I were there, and hope the papers will soon be published!